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July 14th, 2011

First of all, two things. 1, I haven't actually seen it, or rather, heard it live on stage yet. I appear to be working from the concept-album released prior to the show's London opening. And 2, to all my fellow old-school stage-version Phans, please don't Punjab-lasso me! I swear I intend no blasphemy! I truly didn't expect to like it as much as I ended up doing! In fact, I've had the sound-track for months, and only now finally got up my nerve to actually listen to it thanks to the review of the show on the All Things Phantom podcast. But what they said about it reassured me a great deal, and even, dare I say it, got me really excited about it! So I figured I'd go ahead, take the plunge, and give it a listen. And I'm actually in awe, at least of certain parts of it! No, I don't love it unconditionally, and it's not of the same calibre as the original. But by the Gods, old Sir Andrew still has the gift after all! Which reassures my heart greatly, as I'd begun to fear that arrogance over his success and his title had caused him to loose it.

So first off, let me say that what I'm in awe of are most definitely certain parts of the show. As the All Things Phantom reviewers said, it's uneven. Some parts of it are mere filler - necessary to move the plot along, but not of any particular musical or lyrical brilliance. But then there are the moments, four of them in particular, which are truly 5-star! They're musically breath-taking, lyrically great, and emotionally heart-wrenching. And by the way, the leads, Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess (I believe), are fabulous! I can't wait to hear them in the original in the 25th anniversary concert if it's broadcast, which now I hope even more that it will be! Not only do they both have beautiful voices, but can we say emotional? Woah! And that's only on the soundtrack! I'd love to hear them do it live! And I should say that I haven't really even listened to the full soundtrack all the way through yet - I just kind of skimmed once I had the sense of a song or scene unless something really leapt out at me. So there may be more of those 5-star moments waiting to be heard!

And while I'm at it, I have to say that one of the highlights of the show for me was hearing that ALW finally made use of that gorgeous "Journey to the Semetary" music that he added to the 2004 movie. Honestly, that little piece was one of my favourite moments in the movie, and I was really sorry he didn't develop it into a full song then. So I'm really glad he has in LND! He's altered it slightly, and I'm not sure I quite like the way the rhythm flows as much. But it's recognizably the same theme, and it's a really gorgeous song! One of those afore-mentioned true 5-star moments! I alsoreally loved how Sir Andrew continues, in LND, to use leitmotifs to the same kind of brilliant effect to bring out references and subtexts that he does in the original. There are lots of subtle musical allusions to the original, and they work really beautifully, both to tie sequel to source and to evoke subtext possibilities. He's also done an impressive job of hybridizing musical styles. Much of the show is straight-forward, Puccini opera-derived high music-theatre, with lush strings and legit-voice singing, although there seem to be some rag-time references as well as much use of a more traditional music-theatre style. But ALW also brings in elements of rock, especially in some of the Phantom's songs, and yet the styles compliment each other instead of clashing. They serve to sort of bring the story into the present, instead of having it be a total museum-piece, and they also add an edge to it that fits well with the Phantom's life-hardened yet passionate personality.

There were only three things which, I thought, held LND back from being as powerful as the original. First of all, too much skippable filler, at least from what I've heard thus far. There is no such thing in the original. The two "notes" scenes and the Don Juan Triumphant rehearsal scene, while mainly plot-movers too, are nevertheless still musically rich and lyrically interesting. Plus, they're appealing because they provide badly needed moments of levity amidst all the high emotion, something from which LND could take a hint! So maybe that's four things that hold the show back? Because it could definitely do with a better balance between heavy and light emotional moments! Yikes! Especially in act 2 as Meg starts to flip out from jealousy of Christine. And I must say that I disagree with the All Things Phantom reviewer's assessment that Meg looks to the Phantom as a surrogate Father. Even from what I've heard so far, I think the implication is very clear that she's in love, or at least obsessively infatuated with him, and I can't say as I blame her! Which adds an interesting twist, as, while he's trying for a reunion with Christine, who is the only one for whom he has eyes or a thought, Meg is increasingly desperate to make him see her, paralleling his own obsession with Christine in the original.

The second, or rather now third, thing, then, that made LND short of perfect was that the story, beautiful and moving as it was, wasn't what I would have wanted in a sequel to POTO. I would have rather had one which explores, as the original does, the moral and spiritual challenge of finding the courage to love across differences and arbitrary devides, not more of Christine's indecisiveness. And in LND, the courage issue felt almost like a secondary focus or sub-plot to the reunion and the love-triangle with Meg. The Phantom's deformity and the rejection it caused him made the story more poignant, but the same story could have been told without it and remained in tact, and that was a problem in my view.

And lastly, I thought that the lyrics held the show back, reflecting, I think, Charles Hart's lesser involvement in this one as compared to the original, and proving, in my opinion, that Hart doesn't get nearly enough credit for the success of the original Phantom. For, while the lyrics in LND are great, they are not absolutely inspired like those of the original show. And by that I mean that, in the original, especially at the most powerful moments, the lyrics can, imho, be read without music, as straight poetry or play, without loosing any of their power and emotional impact. Likewise, although a medeocre actor in the original is frustrating because they don't do the material justice, they can't actually lessen the impact of lyrics like the incredible "pitiful creature of darkness" line in the final Lair Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again or Music of the Night. But in LND, much of the power of the 5-star moments comes from the setting of the lyrics to Sir Andrew's masterful score, and to the actors' amazing deliveries. I don't think you could read the lyrics, even at such moments as those, straight, unaccompanied, and have them retain their full impact. And, as the All Things Phantom reviewers pointed out, a lesser cast could seriously weaken their punch as well. the writing is just too music-theatre-song-ish, if you know what I mean, for it to stand on its own. I've read that Charles Heart was brought in to "adjust the cadences of the original clunky lines" (by original lyricist Glenn Slater), and I think I can hear his influence in those 5-star moments; though I'm not sure, as, from what I've read, he may have been brought in after the concept-album was recorded. So I'll be interested to hear later versions to see if there's a difference! But Sir Andrew should have brought him in as a full collaborating lyricist in the first place like he did in the original, as Glenn Slater just doesn't have Hart's genius. Hell, I've yet to hear another lyricist who does! So I really pray that, if/when the show comes to my home city, it has as good a cast! Same with its appearance on Broadway! Because a bad cast could really endanger its chances.

Anyway, as I said, I'm glad I finally got up the confidence to give LND a listen! After the 2004 film, I was honestly quite scared to as I couldn't bare another watering down of the story like that! But I have to say that, while it doesn't have quite the fire from heaven of the original, I ended up being really impressed! It's definitely Phanfiction, not cannon. But as Phanfictions go, it gets, if not the A++ of the original or the A+s of some of the best Phics out there, then at least a solid A thus far! I can't wait to hear the show live and see if that holds, though I actually suspect to my surprise that it will! And of course, I'll definitely post further reviews when and if that happens.

November 26th, 2010

Wow! My new laptop rocks!

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So I may have posted about this before, though that was probably ages ago. But in case I didn't, I've been trying for ages now to get myself a Mackentosh laptop through the Assistive Devices Program, which is a government thing in my country that pays for technology for qualifying people with disabilities. I say that because I, thankfully, am one of those qualifying people, but my Mom is not - a fact which pisses me off no end, as she's clearly low-vision but the doctors seem to think there's nothing wrong with her eyes. Idiots! But we all knew that.

Anyway, my new Macbook finally arrived this week. And, as is probably obvious by now, I'm ecstatic! Thing number 1 cause for ecstasy? I've been able to get it completely up and running, right out of the box, with no sighted help whatsoever! And in case anybody's wondering, no, I can't see the contents of the screen, just the brightness. Oh! And in case said brightness ever gets to be a pain, I can simply put the thing in "screen-curtain mode", which effectively turns off the screen without turning off the computer, which is great for a laptop! And it's great for me, as the brightness sometimes gives me head-aches.

Oh! and I should say that the part about not having needed any sighted help with this thing whatsoever includes getting the speech back on after accidentally muting it twice! (LOL some smart-ass programmer thought it'd be a good idea, I'm not sure why, to have a track-pad command to mute and unmute the speech. So you can imagine what hilarities ensued!)

Anyway, ecstasy cause number 2? And somewhat related to the above, this thing is ridiculously easy to figure out! Now admitedly I did my homework, and went through a whole whack of tutorials in advance of ever even touching a Mac. And boy has that ever paid off! In case anybody's wondering, I found them on a website called blindcooltech.com. They have a whole series there of tutorials on how to work the Mac screen-reader, and they're really helpful! And once you know the basics, it's absurdly easy to get up and running!

On a side note, my landlady upstairs is listening to some major heavy metal!

Anyway, I've already got the thing customized quite well to my liking, although I'll probably check out some of the more advanced settings later. The only thing that's still really weird is Itunes because I'm used to Winamp. I'm still trying to figure out how to replicate Winamp's ability to play a complete folder, because that's very useful for playing whole albums and audio-books!

The only other things that take some getting used to are the way the screen-reader reports the movement of the typing-cursor, the track-pad, and figuring out when you do and don't have to interact with stuff. Because honestly, PCs and the screen-readers built for them spoon-feed you in a way that Macs do not! For example, the documents-folder is in a perfectly logical place once you find it. But if you're expecting it to be right in the first level of folders inside your "My Computer" equivalent, you're going to be confused for a while! Also, the Mac screen-reader mirrors the position of the typing-cursor *exactly* as a sighted user would see it on the screen; as opposed to PC screen-readers, which always treat the cursor as moving onto the character it's reading or to the beginning of the word being navigated to. So until you get used to it, it's really easy to delete things you didn't mean to and quite tricky to edit! But I think I've got the hang of it now LOL.

Oh yeah. The one other tricky spot is that, this being a laptop, it doesn't have a number-pad, which isn't so much of a problem as I never used it for navigation anyway. But it doesn't appear to have a home, end, page-up or page-down key either, and that is causing some difficulties with large-leap navigation. But I'm sure I'll find a work-around for it somewhere!

Anyway, as you can all see, I'm having hilarious fun! And I'm sure this'll get even easier the more I do it!

October 10th, 2010

Yeah, I know, I haven't posted in ages! Lazy blogger syndrome. What can I say?

Anyway, Mom and I were listening to Phantom tonight, because, of course, it is October 9th (or was until half an hour ago)! And that makes it the twenty-fourth anniversary of when POTO first opened in London! Wow! And for all that I've been totally obsessed with The Shadow lately, I simply couldn't bring myself not to honour the occasion. And I'm so glad I did! Man, listening to it again reminds me why I love that show so much, and why it's had such incredible staying-power! As Mom said, it really packs an emotional punch!

It also got me thinking, though, about the similarities and differences between the characters of the Phantom and The Shadow, because in many ways they're very close to one another. Both are masters of concealment and illusion, both are incredibly skilled at using black attire to hide themselves within shadows. Both are, as Harold Prince said of the Phantom, incredibly gifted and intelligent beyond most people. Indeed, both could reasonably be described as mad geniuses. Both are master-schemers, and both are very charismatic as well. Yet the Shadow uses his skills and intelligence in the service of justice, at least as defined by the laws of his day, while the Phantom uses his to gain power and even to exploit. Now, there are some very compelling reasons why he does so. The Phantom has essentially been driven to crime by society's lack of compassion and justice. And, as far as we know, the Shadow does not have a comparable background of oppression and exclusion driving him, so in some ways it's not fair to compare them. But to me, it actually makes the Phantom's story even sadder, because I see in the Shadow who the Phantom could have been had he not experienced so much injustice, or had some one shown him sooner the compassion which Christine finally did. In the Shadow, I see the Phantom's skills and genius, but used for the good of society instead of just being out for himself. I see the kind of force for good that the Phantom could have been if given half a chance and some healing help. Thank God at least, though, that he got at least a little of that in the end from Christine! And that's what makes the show so beautiful and powerful.

Interestingly enough, though, comparing the Phantom and the Shadow like this has changed my admiration for the Phantom. I still totally admire his skill and brilliance, and I still understand all too well his desire to take the society that screwed him over for all he can get out of it. Oppression and exclusion will do that! But I don't admire his crimes like I did when I first became a Phan. Back then, the Phantom could do no wrong as far as I was concerned, and I laughed with him as he exploited the managers, murdered Joseph Buquet and dropped the chandelier. But now I don't. I still understand why he has the desire to do those things, and I even get that, to him, its simply self-defense and carving out a place for himself in a hostile world. But I feel now, in a way that I didn't then, that, as understandible as his actions are, they're still wrong. And I even understand why they frightened Christine away from him in a way that I didn't, perhaps couldn't, in my early Phanship! Actually, those changes in my perception of the Phantom's actions have been growing for many years now. But the comparison with the Shadow has helped greatly to sharpen and focus them. I still love the show and the story, though, because, ultimately, the Phantom is redeemable and is redeemed. In the end, he turns away from evil and crime, and does the right thing with the help of Christine's compassion. And that, to me, is and always has been what makes the character and the story work. Because without that redemption, he'd be just another psychopath! And that redemption is what continues to make the character and story of the Phantom work for me even though my position on his behaviour has changed.

July 2nd, 2010

Yeah, I know, I haven't posted in ages. It's been a heck of a couple of weeks between one last choir concert of the season, all hell breaking loose with my Grandmother, and then of course the G8/G20! I only made it out to a little bit of one of the protests, because I've been struggling to find a balance between political convictions and cultural enjoyments that doesn't leave me being a hypocrit. But I'm glad I went even for just that little. And the more I read about the way the cops handled it, the angrier I get!

But what's pissing me off just as much is the atitudes of certain people on my church mailing list. They've been saying that, since people knew it might turn ugly because of what happened on Saturday, people shouldn't have gone on Sunday! They've been suggesting that, since those who got arrested knew that that was a possibility, they shouldn't be complaining! They're even suggesting that anyone who got arrested must have deserved it, and that those of us who argue for the rights of the detainees must be sympathetic to the Black Block! Which, by the way, I'm not at all. I don't believe that instigating violence or vandalism is a useful protest-tactic for a lot of reasons, both practical and spiritual. But nor do I want to see "anarchist" used as a scare-word to smear and silence legitimate activists! And it shocks and horrifies me to see members of my church falling right into that trap! One dood even said he didn't know what people were protesting! What?

It wouldn't be so bad if we were a normal religious denomenation which spends its worship time preeching about how it's right and everyone else is wrong, but we're not. We're a Unitarian-Universalist congregation, rooted in the traditions of civil rights and social justice going all the way back to the radical Reformation, where brave preechers taught that the best way to live out the teachings of Jesus was to live justly and to seek justice in the world! And every week, our sermons and hymns speak and sing about living a life of integrity in which our actions are in synch with our values. Every week we speak and sing about building a better and more just world. Mom swears that certain members of our congregation must sleep through all those hymns and sermons, and I think she must be right! That's the only way to explain it! Do those words mean nothing to them? Or do they think that, by sending money to and writing letters about situations half way around the world, they're doing enough? Jan Hus must be rolling over in his grave!

I think, unfortunately, that the latter is it. They're quite willing to believe that injustice and systematic, government-authorized repression can effect people in so called "Third World" countries. But they're not at all willing to conceed the idea that such things might exist right here and now in our own back, or front, yard. They want to imagine themselves safe in an orderly, middle-class state, which asks nothing more of them than that they vote, pay their taxes and make charitable donations every so often. They want change, as long as it doesn't inconvenience them. And yes, I've been guilty of that myself at times. But when people are being arrested without warrants, denied due process and treated inhumanely, then you've got to put that asside and take a stand!

And what's more, while it's true that I hope that change can happen without my having to loose the elements of this culture that I cherish and enjoy the most, I also realize that that may not be possible. And in thinking about it, I realize that I'm willing to do the work and put up with the inconveniences necessary to make that happen. I'm no ludite puritan. I want a world that's fun and enjoyable - where there's music, plays, musicals, maybe even movies, coffee and cake. And let's not forget costumes! But I want that fun to be created justly, with fair and sustainable conditions of production. Fun should be part of a healthy and well-balanced life, not an escape from a world and system that you know in your heart is creating hell on Earth for somebody, and maybe even for you yourself. And spirituality sure as hell shouldn't be such an escape! So it really shocks and angers me to see members of my church, who should know better, using both fun and spirituality that way. Let's get back to our values, and start living what we preech! Let's start walking the walk as well as we talk the talk!

June 17th, 2010

So as I mentioned before, I'm working on a novel. Actually, I'm working on two novels! One is high fantasy, very much in the vein of LOTR and very much inspired by it. And the other one is a story about a superhero, set a few decades in the future, and heavily inspired by a blend of POTO and The Shadow. LOL No surprises there!

The trouble is that every superhero needs a good name, and all the ones I've thought of are bloody well already taken! I came up with several that conveyed the sense that I wanted. But then when I Googled them, they were all already in use by various other books, bands, entertainment companies, etc,. Some are even already superhero names curse it! So I don't know what to do now. I don't know whether to just go ahead and use the one I like best anyway, or to try to come up with something else. But A, I want to be original, and B, I don't want to piss anybody off by having them think I pilfered their idea! So I don't know what to do. And it's very annoying!

June 15th, 2010

And it's not Lord of the Rings eitehr, although my fascination with the Nazgul lead into it in a weird, circuitous way. Actually, it's a rediscovery of an obsession I went through about fifteen (yikes!) years ago. It didn't last long at the time, because the universe seemed to small at the time and I got bored. And also, I missed how POTO centred on music. But I seem to have recently gone back to this one with a vengeance!

The obsession in this case is The Shadow. It started with my re-finding the song from the 1994 movie, then re-finding the soundtrack. And in listening to it, I thought I should go back and watch that again and see if I'd love it as much now as I did when I saw it back then. So I watched it again, and I do love it as much! Maybe more! Partly because, now that I'm older, I can better appreciate both the myriad pop-culture references and the wisdom that hides beneath the cheese. And goodness knows there's plenty of cheese! But underneath that, and flavoured charmingly by it, is all kinds of neat psychological and spiritual stuff about redemption and about using your dark side as a weapon against evil instead of in its service. And Allec Baldwin's Shadow is sexy as hell! So now I'm tracking down the old radio-drama episodes, and so far I'm loving them just as much!

What I love about The Shadow is that he has the kind of charisma, not to mention the kind of costume, usually associated with villains. Think Darth Vader or teh Nazgul. But he's not a villain. Instead, he uses that charisma and darkness to fight evil and bring about justice. And in the 1994 movie, there's an element of his having started out a bad guy but been redeemed too. And I love the way that kind of parallels themes in POTO - think Erik if he'd lived, especially ALW Erik. Even his costume in the Baldwin version is very POTO! Hense, although I'm loving the radio-dramas so far, I think that that film will likely always have a special place in my Shadow fandom for its similarities to Phantom, my other great love. And his psychic powers, and the mental and spiritual discipline required to use them well, give it a Jedi parallel that's really neat too! In fact, come to think of it, Baldwin's Shadow could also remind one of what a redeemed Anakin Skywalker might have become if he'd lived. Oo! Wow! There's so a cross-over fanfic or two in there! One for Star Wars and one for POTO?

Anyway, as is probably obvious I love it! And it's having a huge influence on one of my novels too. Now if only I can get my own character to come out being that awesome!

May 14th, 2010

Bloody fracking hells!

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Well I just finally got up my nerve to check the last one of my pending Ph.D applications online, and I didn't get in. And I kind of knew I wouldn't too. I suspect it had something to do with not getting a new installment of my current thesis submitted to my supervisor as soon as I should have due to a bad combination of procrastination and outright depression over a period of about six weeks. I know what Mom's going to say. She's going to say, basically, that's that's what I get for being lazy and not doing the work that I should have done when I should have done it. And I don't want to admit to the depression to her, because that'd worry her. Besides, she's inclined to believe that that can and should be overcome by discipline and work. And maybe she's right? After all, failing to do so just cost me a doctoral program! And I don't know if having failed to be accepted once will count against me if I try again. So I don't know what to do now.

The worst of it is that, come Christmas when I next see him, my Father will likely ask how things are with me! And then I'll have to tell him that I didn't get accepted and he'll see me as a flake and a failure again. He was just barely beginning to see me as not that because I've gotten into a Masters program, and this is going to shoot that all to hell! And I'm likely only to be able to keep folks at church from finding out for so long either, and then they're all likely to see me as a flake too because I'm eccentric! Most of them are Muggles who practice any witchiness, Paganism or other eccentricity strictly in the closet, and they get very uncomfortable around those of us who refuse to do likewise. Ug! I can hear the old ladies already! No offence to any hip elders out there.

Anyway, I don't know what the F to do now. I may well try again next year though. In the mean time, I guess I'll just work on getting the current thesis finished, and then figure out what to do from there!

May 12th, 2010

More thoughts on religion.

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Yeah, I know. Two posts in as many days! Wow! But I got to thinking after I finished posting last night, and was going to post again then but got too tired.

Anyway, I got to thinking that maybe my draw towards religions with a strong component of practices of spiritual discipline, like Islam, Orthodox Judaism, Orthodox Christianity and Catholicism, might be trying to tell me something. I began thinking that it might be trying to tell me, in spite of myself, that I need greater discipline in my own life and spiritual practice. Yes Mom, I hear you! I'm working on swallowing the "I told you so" due me. But I thought that maybe my draw to such faith-traditions isn't so much a draw towards conversion but towards needing to create a similar level of spiritual discipline for myself. I'm still chewing on that one though, and certainly haven't yet worked out how that's going to work for me.

I also got thinking, yet again, that one of the reasons I'm also drawn to Paganism is that it offers human-beings a measure of empowerment. It struck me that people generally seem to make one of two philosophical/theological errors. On one hand, they're grandiose and desire to be as Gods, or even be Gods themselves as in so many Western essotaric(sp?) traditions and as in so much of modern science. Heck, even many New Age and Pagan paths fall into that trap, declaring that we are the Gods/Goddess. Or, on the other hand, they go right to the other extreme, declaring human-beings to be utterly powerless unless backed by the will and power of a supreme, all-powerful and all-knowing Father. Or similarly, that all we can do is be passive and "go with the flow".

What appeals to me in Paganism, then, is that it seems to offer a possibility of landing somewhere in the middle. By allowing and even encouraging the use of magic to shape reality, Pagan practices encourage human-beings to take an active part in creating and shaping the universe, and even to put their own imagination and will into it. But at the same time, they have the potential for recognition of the fact that we are not omniscient or omnipotent, that there is much that we don't and may never know, and that we thus need to approach our changing and shaping with a measure of humility as well. And they encourage us to take responsibility for what we unleash, because it will come back to us as part of the natural process of cause and effect, action and reaction. So before you go around changing the worlds, you're encouraged to think through the possible consequences for yourself and others to make sure that, as much as possible, you don't do harm to innocent bystanders or to the undeserving. In that way, Paganism treats you like a responsible adult, rather than like a child who needs to be threatened with punishment from on high. And I appreciate that greatly!

May 11th, 2010

Hmmm. I haven't posted here, or anywhere else for that matter, in a frightfully long while. And I'm not even sure what I want to say now, so this may come out a little bit disjointedly. Anyway, I started reading the Quran(sp?) - something I've been meaning to do for years. And some one made it available in audio-book (in English), so I figured I'd finally do it. Interestingly enough, so far I'm finding it easier to read than the Christian Bible - partly because it's much shorter, and partly because the style is more poetic - more like the style of the prophetic writings of the Psalms, books of the prophets and Book of Revelations than like that of the more quasi-narrative books.

I've always been fascinated with Islam, and I'm beginning to suspect that I was probably from a Muslim culture in a former life - Perhaps Arabic or Persian because of the way I'm drawn to the languages and styles of dress.

Uh-oh, warning. This could get long-winded.

Anyway, what fascinates me about Islam, ironically, is the discipline - the proscribed prayers, the proscribed dress-code and diet, etc,. And for those who know me, that's ironic as hell because I generally chafe at discipline, finding it overbearing and restrictive. Mom would find that especially ironic! She's been trying to convince me of the value of discipline, especially discipline related to house-keeping and personal organization, for aproximately two decades now, maybe two and a half, and I always chafe at the very idea of having to submit myself to an external schedule or set of criteria. And yet I'm drawn to the disciplines of Islam, much as I'm drawn to those of Catholic and Orthodox Christianity and Orthodox Judaism. Hmmm. I think I'm sensing a theme here?

I also think I'm drawn to the certainty, just as I've been drawn to the certainties offered by Christianity - the certainty of knowing that I'm doing the right things and living riteously. My own Pagan and science-informed beliefs don't offer anything like that kind of surety. And while I think that's right and a true representation of reality, it can be a little unsettling! You have to choose what you believe to be right action without any guarantees, because you don't, and can't possibly, know all the factors in play in any given situation. And in addition, there is often no way to externally verify your experience of divinity. So you have to, simultaneously, trust your instincts and intuitions and yet know that they're limited and may be wrong. So you can see why certainty might sometimes seem appealing!

Yet I'm simultaneously repelled by Islam, and for the same reasons why I'm repelled by hard-core Christianity - the certainty it offers comes at the expense of the willingness to accept multiple ways. Like Christianity, it claims to be the only valid way, and preeches hell-fire and damnation against those who do not accept it as such, lumping them in with those who commit war and other forms of injustice as though their unbelief were the cause of the latter. It suggests that those who question or dispute its revelations do so out of pride or wickedness rather than genuine difference of experience, as, since there is only one God, there can be no legitimate difference of experience. That one God can reveal to whomever he pleases, and to dispute that revelation is to challenge him and his power. One God, one way, absolutes of good and evil and of right and wrong - obedience or disobedience.

Yet I am drawn to many of the concerns of Islam - with right living, with justice, with believing that those who commit injustice will get what they deserve - with cosmic or spiritual justice. I just don't appreciate those concerns being linked with a particular revelation that everyone in the world is supposed to flock to or be condemned as evil. And I have trouble believing that God, if there is really a single ultimate creator, which I'm not sure of since hearing an Aboriginal perspective on the issue, would be so uncompassionate as to condemn people to eternal hell simply for not accepting a revelation if they reject it out of genuine lack of conviction or misgiving.

Anyway, I'll keep reading and studying, and tell you all what I think as I do.

April 7th, 2010

Well I've been meaning for a while now to create on Fanfiction.net a C2 community for stories about Nazgul, and the other night I finally did! There aren't that many such stories, and they're somewhat hard to find. It takes quite a bit of searching. And I noticed that, as many C2 communities as there are for Lord of the Rings, surprisingly, there wasn't one for the Ringwraiths! So I've started one myself, and I've been spending the week collecting and adding to it all the stories I've read over the past few months. So now I'll be able to find them again without their having to take up space in my bookmarks list! And of course, I'm hoping that, eventually, other people will find stories and submit them too so that there'll be a lot of them. Actually, no, I haven't added all the stories I've read, only the ones that are well-written.
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