Love, Philosophy, Religion, Uncategorized

An Open Letter To My Muslims Brothers & Sisters

Assalamu alaikum

The world tells me we are inherently different. I’m not a Muslim my self, but I’ve always been fascinated & inspired by Islamic contribution to human civilization. The history of & historical figures from the Islamic world have fascinated & inspired me for years, especially the era of the Islamic  Renaissance in North Africa, the Middle East & Spain. As a student of philosophy the works of Muslim thinkers & scholars have always grabbed my attention, particularly Abu al-Walid Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Rushd (known in the West as Averroes). I first encountered Ibn Rushed in a wonderful Philosophy class I took in college for my minor. My German born professor admired him & introduced us to the basics of his system of though. This passage from his book The Decisive Treatise stood out to me

The double meaning [of religion & philosophy] has been given to suit people’s diverse intelligence. The apparent contradictions are meant to stimulate the learned to deeper study.

What this has always seemed to mean for me, a non-believer of God, is that religion & philosophy often have the same goal: to understand the Universe, what takes place in it, our own place in it, and how to live with and understand one another. There is intrinsic difference between people of faith & people of freethinking philosophy, just slight variations in emphasis & ontology. We all live by moral standards, we all have family or communities, we all seek knowledge, we all seek to better ourselves & those we love & care for. The differences in how we come to understand ourselves & our world are not nearly as important as the fact we do all seek to know, to feel, to love, to explore. 

There are many paths to truth, to happiness, to wisdom. We do a great disservice to ourselves & our fellow human beings when we close off a path because it may not seem familiar at first. I have found that when one takes the time to take, as Frost wrote, “the path less travelled”, you see that what at first seems to your eyes and mind to be alien is in fact your own world made new again through difference; a tree is a tree is a tree again, and a wise thought is wisdom in any tongue or any culture. We translate our seeming differences by experiencing them, through a striving to see love in unknown places, and emerging from the path to a shared destination.

***

A beautiful building stands near my apartment in Bolingbrook, Illinois, a Masjib & community center. It represents to me the wonderful diversity of this country & its people, people who make our community stronger & more enlightened. I smile when I think of the young Muslim families I see at the library or at the store; how proud they seem, how kind & friendly they are. On a more personal note, when I was in college it was hard for me to make friends (I am autistic and social skills are not my forte) and many of my peers ignored me or did not take the time to try to understand my life or point of view. That is until I met a group of Muslims students, some of whom I worked with at the College library. They were warm, open, non-judgemental, invited me to sit with them at lunch, introduced me to new people & ideas. We enjoyed the time we spent together, and even though we saw the world differently sometimes, we never let these differences get in the way of caring for one another as human beings. Their friendship during this hard time in my life is not something I will ever forget.

***

Today many of our non-Muslim leaders in government, medias & culture are telling us to fear Muslims, to hate them, to shun them. They tell us Islam is an “evil” religion, one that has no intellectual tradition worth studying, no love for women or those outside of Islam. I know these are calumnies, blood libels told to benefit those with power & who want power, whose imperial aims thrive when Muslims and non-Muslims fight & terrorize one another. I know that the West has blood on its hands and has done much to earn the distrust of some in the Muslim World. I know that fanatics on both sides need this hatred & use it to wield power over people who just want to live safe, happy lives. I know that those who hate, who want us to hate, believe that there are two worlds at war. I know the truth. I know there is one world, one humanity. I know refugees are seeking what I seek: a home, love, education, enrichment, happiness, community. I know most Muslims know this too. We are not different, we have no reason to fear one another. We must love one another. I support Muslims, I support refugees, I support immigrants. I support my brothers & sisters. I reject Trump & his fascist ideology, his fascist programs. I stand with you, and I know many more stand with you too. We are not different, you and I. We are the same people making our way, sometimes on different paths, sometimes on the same path, all heading to the same destination.

yours in friendship,

Noah Mann-Engel

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anarchism, Atheism, Catholicism, Death, poetry, Religion, Socialism, Spain, Uncategorized

Heretic’s Benediction

Priests bless the perversions of the fascists

While condemning the sharing of the land

but no foul curate will thwart our demand

we have no fear of holy chauvinists

 

Mass is held with the flesh of socialists

While Fathers absolve the barbarous bands

The sign of the cross made with bloody hands

Having sold their souls to Nationalists

 

We drink the pure water of righteousness

Boorish Priests are drunk on the holy blood

We sup as one on the bread of blitheness

While like cows with their host they chew the cud

they make a desert of faith with their weakness

Lo, and heed; after us will come the flood

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2nd Amendment, Alex Jones, CNN, Conspiracy, Liberty, Piers Morgan

Alex Jones: The Poison of Fear

Alex-Jones

As you are probably aware if you have a TV, Twitter, and live in the United States, Alex Jones, he of the conspiracy driven radio hate rant, just blew up on Live tv. He was on Piers Morgan’s show on CNN tonight to discuss the petition he started to get Morgan deported for his views on the 2nd Amendment and his recent arrest for refusing to comply with safety regulations at an airport. Jones is known for his bombast and for shouting down those who present facts that disprove his paranoid lies. I will not dignify his filth by disproving any of his paranoid theories at length, but I do have a few things to say on the matter

1. Just because you scream loud and proud about the UN, black helicopters, and poison floride water and people in power disagree with you DOES NOT MAKE YOU RIGHT BY DEFAULT. This is the problem with most libertarians: prove them wrong with facts and that just proves to them that the facts were faked by “the powers that be”. There is no winning in that sort of debate.

2. Anti-depressants do not lead to more suicide than people who are NOT on anti-depressants. I take anti-depressants. My wife does. Many if not most of my friends do. Millions of people do. And yet I am not seeing streets running red with blood from people killing themselves because Zoloft made them do it. People need these meds. Some people DESPERATELY need them. To lie and say that it is part of a plot by the government and corporations to kill people makes you complicate in the suffering and death of the millions who do not have mental health care or medication. So fuck you.

3. If the black helicopters were really coming, don’t you think it would have happened by now?

4. Just because you are a nut with a gun does not mean you can fight of the US government.

5. If you own 50 guns (like Alex Jones claims to) I am going to go ahead and say you may be overreacting just a tad.

6. The UN can’t agree on what day it is. Do you REALLY think it has the wherewithal to plan a mass campaign of genocide and brainwashing?

7. If you see Piers Morgan as a threat in any sense then I really have to question  your sanity

and FINALLY: Calm DOWN man…Smoke a joint and mellow out a bit. You are going to die of a heart attack if you don’t slow your roll a bit, Mr. Jones.

This is what happens when fear overturns reason and faith in that same fear drives on to believe whatever it takes to make the scary thoughts go away. I have much more to say on this topic in my book…hence the shameless plug for it. Mmmm…capitalism.

FEAR AND FAITH BOOK: https://www.createspace.com/3986497

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Atheism, Circumcision, Health, Liberty, Men, Science, Sex, Sexuality

Circumcision

Detail of Circumcision of Jesus Christ by Pellegrino da San Daniele

A 99 year old Iraqi mystic who once tried to sacrifice his own son to a desert sky deity decided to chop off the foreskin of his penis in order to seal a covenant with said deity. This may or may have not happened around 4000 plus years ago (it didn’t but I am attempting to be ecumenical here). This is one of the most common reasons given for the choice to circumcise male children all over the world. The World Health Organization estimates that 1/3 of all males on Earth are circumcised. That is over 1 billion people. There have been numerous studies done that purport to show the medical benefits of removing the prepuce and an almost equal number done showing the opposite or that there is no change at all. I believe that this is beside the point. The vast majority of circumcisions done are performed when the child is an infant or a young toddler. The child does not have the ability to consent to this procedure, and as it is performed almost exclusively as a cosmetic or culturally mandated procedure this leads to a few ethical dilemmas.

Where is the line drawn as to such decisions? If the culture of the parent dictated that a child would be best served by the ceremonial removal of the tip of his tongue or his ear lobes would this be permissible as a medical procedure administered upon an infant? Something tells me that the removal of ear lobes at birth would cause a bit of a stir in the international community. But of course the penis is part of that dirty filthy realm of sex, and sex is almost universally colored by views informed by millenarian prophets born in another century. Because of its near ubiquitous nature circumcision it is assumed that there is an assumption that there must be something inherently positive to the procedure. What that positive aspect consists of seems to be up for discussion. As I mentioned there is the medical argument that circumcision has health benefits, principally it reduces the risk of HIV/AIDS transmission. But by the time a boy is old enough to see real risk from any sort of sexual activity/disease he will have gained the ability to make a decision on his own whether or not he wants his penis mutilated.

Should we then not err on the side of letting a growing human being decide what his sexual organ looks like and how it feels? Some say that women or other men will reject a man who is not circumcised and that he may be ostracized for life. Assuming this is true, and my personal experience would suggest that this is not universally the case, is possible future social shunning really a good enough reason to deprive a person of the choice to decide how their body will look for the rest of their lives? Another argument would have us believe that a child will not remember the pain that occurs doing a circumcision because of his age so the issue of discomfort should not be an issue. Personally I find this “argument” to be facile at best and downright cruel at worst. Who are we to decide what an infant can or cannot experience or what or what he may not remember? I remember tripping down my Aunt’s staircase and cutting my eye lid upon the sharp edge of the landing. I was a year and a half old. “He won’t remember” does not seem to be a great excuse to inflict unnecessary pain upon an infant, no matter what the reason.

There is not much evidence for or against the idea that circumcision leads to decreased (or increased) sensitivity during oral/vaginal/anal intercourse but the absence of any evidence should not be taken of evidence of absence. I have talked with men who have undergone the procedure who wonder what sexual relations would have felt like if they had not had this bit of their genitalia removed. Is it too much to expect that they reach puberty before they are faced with this sort of potentially life altering decision? Is anything lost, even in a religious sense, if a child has the ability to consent to his own physical alteration, even if, no, especially if it is in tribute to some sort of deity?

For better or worse men identify with their genitalia in a visceral and even emotional way. It is part of the psychological picture of them-selves and it will become an important part of how they relate sexually with the woman or man they end up being physically and/or romantically involved with. And furthermore it is an issue of trust and personal liberty: if we are not allowed to make decisions about the very appearance of our bodies then what sort of message does this send to societies based upon liberty or aspiring to liberty? Where do we draw the line? And why should religious and cultural considerations be given a veto over the inherent sanctity and dignity of how a human being decides what happens to his own body? God should not be an active partner in what happens to a child’s penis. That decision should be left to that child when he is old enough to understand the pros and cons of the decision to be circumcised.

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Atheism, Philosophy, Reason, Religion, Writing

On Fear And Faith: My First Published Book!

onfear

 

https://www.createspace.com/3986497

 

I am so proud to announce that my first self-published work, “On Fear and Faith: A Declaration of Atheism”, is now available on the Amazon.com owned site createspace.com! The book is about 30 pages long and deals with my personal atheism and how religious faith depends upon, and relates to, innate human fears.

I wrote this essay about 2 years ago as I was leaving college and wished to explore further my beliefs or lack thereof. I researched and wrote the pamphlet over 3 months and put a lot of my spare time not working on my novel into the process. It was a real labor of love and I am proud with what I have come up with.

The style is inspired by the great essays and philosophical tracts written by Montaigne, Bacon, Hitchens and Orwell. I only hope that I can reach and inspire, through my words and thoughts,  people  and maybe even help those who are struggling with problems of personal philosophy and belief.

Bellow is an excerpt from the book and then the link where you can purchase the book. The list price is under $6 which I think is a fair price and will allow almost anyone who wishes to be able to buy my book. If I get enough of a response I may even host a discussion on my blog about the book! I hope to hear from you about it and thank you for even reading this far.

EXCERPT FROM “On Fear and Faith: A Declaration of Atheism”:

Many people are “born into” mental slavery, to quote Bob Marley, but once they reach the age of maturity they are as responsible for their beliefs as their parents were when they first came of age. Familiarity with fear is not an excuse for choosing to live in it after being faced with the realities of a world governed in large part by fear and faith, even less so when that person has been reasonably educated and knows the difference between reason and faith. Are the adults of our world lost forever from the grasp of reason and intellectual freedom? Perhaps you think that with greater age it would be easier to use an appeal to reason and sanity in regards to the argument against religion. You would sadly be mistaken. Whenever I think of the problem of freeing grown minds in the thrall of fear I remember a conversation I had once with a young evangelical Christian. This was perhaps a year ago, and I was sitting in the common room of my residence hall reading a book. There was a group of young people animatedly talking on a set of couches about 20 feet to my left. One of this group (a young man I will call John) walked over to me and politely inquired as to what I was reading. I told him that it was a book about the intellectual and religious origins of creationism. A look of quite excitement crept across his face. He asked what I thought about creationism. It was at this point that I realized that John was a Christian. 

If you want to read more buy it here:

https://www.createspace.com/3986497

Thank you!

L’Ennemi (Noah Mann-Engel)

 

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