Song Analysis – “All Too Well” Taylor Swift

I’m not a big fan of long prefaces, but I think it’s warranted here because I’m breaking from tradition. When I started this blog, I often analyzed songs but for over a year I stopped. Now I am returning to song analyses. Basically, I quit because I thought music was prohibited in Islam and I am back because I now reject that view. I probably should do a post where I really break down all the arguments in my head, for and against, but this is not that post. I hope my readers realize the many challenges of writing to a mixed audience of Muslims and non-Muslims. I suppose I have some readers who could stop following me from now on because they disagree with me. Of course if they do so, that’s their prerogative. To put my position simply, the position that Islam bans all music strikes me as inconsistent with what I know of Islam. There is far too much musicality in the recitation of Quran, the calling of the adhan, and the poetry of the Companions for me to accept that a good Muslim eschews all music. Added to this is all the music in the natural world from the songs of birds, to the chirping of crickets, to the haunting melodies made by whales. I think humans have a musical impulse and Islam proposes to purify that impulse by urging people to choose the best of music. I think we are to reject the music that is crude, crass, offensive, and distasteful. What this means is that I choose to write about music, but only music that does not encourage drug (including alcohol) abuse and sexual abuse.

“All Too Well” as written by Liz Rose and Taylor Swift
I walked through the door with you, the air was cold,
But something ’bout it felt like home somehow and I
Left my scarf there at your sister’s house,
And you still got it in your drawer even now.

Oh, your sweet disposition and my wide-eyed gaze.
We’re singing in the car, getting lost upstate.
The autumn leaves falling down like pieces into place,
And I can picture it after all these days.

And I know it’s long gone,
And that magic’s not here no more,
And I might be okay,
But I’m not fine at all.

‘Cause there we are again on that little town street.
You almost ran the red ’cause you were looking over me.
Wind in my hair, I was there, I remember it all too well.

Photo album on the counter, your cheeks were turning red.
You used to be a little kid with glasses in a twin-size bed
And your mother’s telling stories about you on a tee ball team
You tell me ’bout your past, thinking your future was me.

And I know it’s long gone
And there was nothing else I could do
And I forget about you long enough
To forget why I needed to

‘Cause there we are again in the middle of the night.
We dance around the kitchen in the refrigerator light
Down the stairs, I was there, I remember it all too well, yeah.

Maybe we got lost in translation, maybe I asked for too much,
And maybe this thing was a masterpiece ’til you tore it all up.
Running scared, I was there, I remember it all too well.

Hey, you call me up again just to break me like a promise.
So casually cruel in the name of being honest.
I’m a crumpled up piece of paper lying here
‘Cause I remember it all, all, all too well.

Time won’t fly, it’s like I’m paralyzed by it
I’d like to be my old self again, but I’m still trying to find it
After plaid shirt days and nights when you made me your own
Now you mail back my things and I walk home alone

But you keep my old scarf from that very first week
‘Cause it reminds you of innocence and it smells like me
You can’t get rid of it, ’cause you remember it all too well, yeah

‘Cause there we are again, when I loved you so
Back before you lost the one real thing you’ve ever known
It was rare, I was there, I remember it all too well

Wind in my hair, you were there, you remember it all
Down the stairs, you were there, you remember it all
It was rare, I was there, I remember it all too well

Here is a heartbreaking, evocative love song from Taylor Swift. In actuality, Swift shares creative credit here with Liz Rose, Grammy winning songwriter and frequent Swift collaborator. For better or worse, many of our favorite artists do not compose their work alone. But let’s not get so lost in assigning credit that we lose sight of the aching beauty of this piece.

What’s striking here is how these little pieces of memory are what makes this love so special in her eyes. There is the wind in her hair, the wild abandon of getting lost on a road trip, the photo album he showed her with pictures of him as a boy, an evening spent dancing in the kitchen, and the scarf, oh the scarf. As a scarf sometimes ties an ensemble together, the image of the scarf ties this song together.

At the beginning of the song, the scarf seems like a trifle, a throwaway. She mentions leaving her scarf at his sister’s house and it just seems meaningless. Yet the way she says he still has it “even now” makes me think she feels he’s held on to it more than a little too long. It’s like one shoe dropping making you listen intently for the other shoe to drop.

Also, she catches my attention when she says, “Maybe this thing was a masterpiece ’til you tore it all up.” She’s a very clever songwriter, perhaps the greatest of her generation, but I wonder if even she is aware of all she’s implying here. Yes, she thinks her love is something beautiful and she’s blaming him for ruining it, though the “maybe” makes her a bit kinder than she’s been in past break-up songs. It’s so easy to play armchair therapist and you rarely ever know if you’re right or wrong, but doesn’t it seem like she’s saying she wants her relationship to be something she can show off? You don’t make a “masterpiece” to make yourself a happy. You make it to show the world what a genius you are.

And then she just blows me away when she wails like a banshee on the line “And then you call me again just to break me like a promise.” You really have to hear this with your own ears to get it. This is the line that I anticipate for the whole duration of the song. It’s so confessional, it’s so vulnerable and yet it’s laced with venom. His words make her feel miserable, “breaking” her. But she’s gotten so used to it because he broke promises to her all the time. And then she hits a passive-aggressive home-run with “so casually cruel in the name of being honest,” using the assonance of promise/honest.  He’s probably telling her things like she’s needy or she’s superficial which are probably what he honestly feels, but it’s so insulting to her that she classifies it as cruelty.

Now the scarf comes back. I wish I could pore over all of these details because there’s so much to be said for them all. But the long and short of it is that he nicked the scarf the first week they were together and he’s still holding on to it even though they’ve broken up. I love the way she says “’cause it reminds you of innocence.” I suspect he’s not even aware that he’s keeping it because it’s a symbolic token of an ideal that he has in some ways betrayed. He just knows he can’t let go. I can’t even quite pinpoint the emotion she’s feeling about it, though she seems much more self-aware. Does she pity him for needing her, or at least a piece of her, so much? Does she treasure the sweetness of a boy whose love extends past her, to even the objects she has touched? Or is she numb and analyzing this like a cold clinician, seeing the symptoms of a boy who now realizes the mistakes of his past? It could be any or all of those.

As she closes the song, the memories come flooding back. She sees the wind in her hair on their road-trip. She sees him dancing on her downstairs kitchen floor. “It was rare, I was there, I remember it all too well.” The three-part structure of this line oddly reminds me of Caesar’s “I came, I saw, I conquered.” And though Caesar was triumphant where Swift seems defeated, there’s something about the boom-boom-boom form of this that makes you think it’s just way too fast. Closing with “I remember it all too well” and of course using the title itself as a coda is just stellar writing. But also she’s vividly illustrating this thorny human problem of memory. By saying she remembers “too well,” she’s implying that she would like to forget. Perfectly understandable as the pain she feels is clear as day. But would she really? These moments seem so special, so dazzling in their beauty, that it seems like such a shame if she were to lose the memories of them. So what do you choose – do you forget even the best moments because they lead you to pain or do you remember even the worst moments because they’re wrapped in a bittersweet joy? Blue pill or red pill?

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What the Fuck: Contextual Meaning of an English Idiom

What the Fuck: Contextual Meaning of an English Idiom

People say “what the fuck” (WTF) a lot. It’s a very ordinary phrase. Or is it? Have you ever stopped to consider how unusual “what the fuck” is. What are you really saying when you say it? What do you mean when you say it? Does it always mean the same thing?

This phrase depends a lot, in fact, almost exclusively, on context. Stripped of context, it means almost nothing. Or to take it from a different angle, it potentially means so many things that you can’t decide.

Say a man is driving a car and another car hits his rear fender. Shocked by the impact, he says, “What the fuck?” Here the meaning is fairly clear. If he said, “What just happened?” it would mean the same thing, essentially, though the “fuck” adds a shade of anger to the mix. It’s like saying “What just happened?” plus “Fuck the guy that did that to me.”

Say a celebrity, let’s just use Lady Gaga here, goes walking down the red carpet in a dress made out of Dixie cups. This is hypothetical – I don’t believe she’s done this. A typical response might be “What the fuck?” Now, the phrase doesn’t really mean – “what just happened?” as it did previously. Now it says, “I am confused because I do not know what I am looking at.” And that’s another quite common use for this phrase.

Confusion is a key element of WTF. I don’t know that one is always expressing confusion with WTF but more than one use of WTF does express confusion.

You could say that WTF is the synonymous with “what the hell” or even plain “what.” But I think that misses the mark. While I would concede that there are instances where you can substitute “what the hell” for “WTF” without a huge change in meaning, this is not always the case. “What the hell” is interesting in its own way because it can easily switch from meaning “I don’t know what this is” to “let’s try this because we have nothing to lose.” For an example of that second meaning, consider a guy asking a girl, “Wanna go to Vegas?” and her replying affirmatively, “What the hell –  let’s go.” I can’t explain why but somehow WTF can’t pull off this transition. Maybe because the f-bomb gives off a kind of anger that won’t let it happen.

WTF also has a feature, and I promise I’ll explain – that’s like a rebuttable presumption of rhetoricality. It can be a rhetorical question but sometimes it clearly demands an answer. Going back to the guy in the car collision, he intended WTF rhetorically, not expecting anyone to answer. But here’s a situation where I think WTF would be intended to be answered. Say two guys are living together – Mike and Frank. Mike discovers three dirty plates in the bathtub. Plates in hand, he goes to Frank and says, “What the fuck?” It seems clear that in this context WTF means something like “What on earth could be your rationale for doing this?” So when we hear “WTF,” we tend to think that it’s the kind of question we wouldn’t answer, but there are some contexts where we had better answer it.

People are fascinated by the f-word by itself for numerous reasons. It’s taboo and human nature makes people really crave the things that society forbids. There’s also its touted versatility as when people claim it’s the rare word that can be any part of speech. Personally, I disagree with this belief on multiple levels. One, it’s not true. I don’t see how you could ever use the f-word as a conjunction (e.g. and, or) and the conjunction is a part of speech. Two, lots of English words switch-hit as different parts of speech and it doesn’t seem to add much to their charm. For instance, “walk” can be both a verb and a noun, but does that make “walk” any less boring as a word? Also, while I’m being an iconoclast and tearing down myths I might as well add that the f-word did NOT originally mean “Fornication Under Consent of King.” Instead, like many of our English curse words, it descended from older German words, in this particular case, a verb, “fokken,” which meant “to strike.”

Personally, I avoid swear words in my own conversations. I’ve indulged in this essay because I feel I wanted to explore the f-word intellectually. My mother taught me that an intelligent person doesn’t need the crutch of curse words to express himself or herself. I sort of hope she doesn’t read this, but I also think it’s something of which, upon reflection, she could be proud.

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How to Be the Best

Khalifa Abu Bakr Siddiq (Radiallahu anhu, May Allah be Pleased with him) said, “I have been placed in power over you, though I am not the best of you.” Scholars have tried to interpret what he meant when he said this. There were numerous statements of Prophet Muhammad (Salla allahu alaihi wa sallam, Peace be upon him) that clearly showed that Abu Bakr (R) WAS the best of men after the Prophet himself (S). For example, Ibn Abi Mu’alla narrates that Rasulullah (S) said, “There in no one among people more beneficial to us in his companionship, or generous with his wealth than Ibn Abi Quhafah (an alternate name for Abu Bakr).” So Abu Bakr (R) could have easily said that it was common knowledge that he was the best of the Sahabah. Yet he said he was NOT the best.

Some will say this is a simple act of humility. I think humility is a major aspect of this saying, but I think there is more. While Rasulullah (S) was present, he was the best of men. But he did not spend a great deal of time or energy talking about how he was the best. In fact, one could say there is an Islamic akhlaq (behavior) of being the best. Part of this akhlaq is that one does not belabor the point of how great one is.

Another thing to consider is that people can be better in some ways and worse in other ways. Some Muslims might say that Umar (R) was more courageous than Abu Bakr (R). Some Muslims might say Ali (R) was more eloquent than Abu Bakr (R). Some might say Uthman (R) had more modesty than Abu Bakr (R). I do not want to digress into a debate of this nature, but I want to make the point that different Sahabah excelled in different ways. Abu Bakr (R) may have had this is mind as well.

Also, the context of the speech makes its meaning more clear, as one might expect. Later in the same speech, Abu Bakr (R) asked the people assembled in the masjid to assist him when he was right and to straighten him out when he was wrong. Human nature being what it is, you don’t tell people how great you are and then ask for their help.

A hidden beauty of Abu Bakr (R)’s wise speech is how well it applies to all sort of leadership. For instance, in Islam we believe that Allah made the human being “the best of creation.” The human species holds rule over all other creatures. Now apply Abu Bakr’s words to this form of leadership. “We (humans) have been put in power over you (all other organisms), though we are not the best of you.”

Isn’t a cheetah faster than a man? Doesn’t a hawk have sharper vision? Doesn’t the lowly dog have a more acute sense of smell than a human? These are scientific facts. We should not think too highly of ourselves and imagine that no animals could be our peer. Rather, we should recognize that Allah (Subhana wa Ta’ala, Glorified and Most High) gave us the intellect to rule over the planet and both the intellect as well as the rulership are part of a trust that we had best use responsibly.

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Call Me Maybe Parodies

Hey I just met you
Hope you’re not a stalker
Give me a call
Cause I’m a talker

Hey we just met now
This sounds imprudent
Teach me love
I’ll be your student

You’re so hot man
Here have my number
Is there any way
This song could be dumber?
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Poem Analysis – “The Turtle” – Ogden Nash

The Turtle

By Ogden Nash

The turtle lives ‘twixt plated decks
Which practically conceal its sex.
I think it clever of the turtle
In such a fix to be so fertile

Frederic Ogden Nash (1902-1971) was well-known for crafting humorous poems. In an obituary, the New York Times said that his “droll verse with its unconventional rhymes made him the country’s best-known producer of humorous poetry”. Nash was related to General Francis Nash, a general in the American War of Independence who gave his name to the city of Nashville, Tennessee.

Many of Nash’s poems focus on the lives of animals. In whimsical short poems that seem to be about animals, he often conveys profound messages about the life of man. Some of his other poems about animals include, “The Cow,” “The Kitten,” and “The Camel.”

Nash writes, “The turtle lives ‘twixt plated decks/ Which practically conceal its sex.” He is describing the anatomy of the common turtle. The “plated decks” are the edges of its hard exterior shell. When Nash says that the plates of the shell “conceal its sex,” he is using “sex” to mean gender. Since the shell of a turtle covers up nearly the entire body, it hides the gender identity of the animal. How is one turtle supposed to know if another turtle is a guy or a girl? (In reality, there are significant anatomical differences between male and female turtles that are visible regardless of the shell.)

Then Nash reflects, “I think it clever of the turtle/ In such a fix to be so fertile.” I found this poem confusing at first because I was misinterpreting the word “fix.” The word “fix” means “dilemma” here.  The turtle faces a dilemma because it needs its shell for protection yet it also needs to mate to propagate the species. And yet, turtles must be able to overcome the issue because if they could not, they would have gone extinct a long time ago.

Well that’s fine for the turtle, but what about us humans? Actually, the poem has a lot to say about humans. Many people create metaphorical shells around their hearts to keep people out. For example, some people are very secretive about relationships, whom they like, and whom they are seeing. They do this so that if a relationship fails, few people know about it and so it is less painful. Yet this kind of shell can be detrimental if it keeps the person from finding someone special.

I wonder if Nash felt distinctions between males and females needed to be clearer. In my own lifetime, I have seen significant changes in how men and women dress. Sometimes it is very easy to tell at a glance if a person is male or female. Sometimes it is quite difficult. For instance, earrings used to be exclusively feminine. If you saw earrings on a person, you could be pretty certain that the person was a female. But now, quite a few men wear earrings too. It might seem like an insignificant thing, however, imagine if the trend became more pronounced. What if it was suddenly very difficult to tell if people were males or females? What would happen to relationships?

To paraphrase “Jurassic Park,” ultimately “nature finds a way.” Our drive to survive is so strong that we tend to overcome the obstacles in our path.

 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogden_Nash

http://www.westegg.com/nash/turtle.html

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100412154548AACfUCx

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Poem Analysis “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” Langston Hughes

I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy
bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

I’ve known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers. -

—–
See more and hear audio of Langston Hughes read his own poem at:

http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15722

When I studied history, particularly ancient history, my teachers emphasized the importance of rivers to civilization. Rivers gave fertility to soil. Rivers helped carry people, animals, and goods from place to place. The cycle of river flooding impacted the economic cycle. And many more connections could be made. I suspect Langston Hughes received similar lessons in his own education.

While riding a train South, parallel to the Mississippi River, Mr. Hughes thought of the history of this river. He thought about how slaves were sold down the river, separated from everyone and everything they knew. He thought about how, as a young man, President Abraham Lincoln had traveled down the river. When Lincoln was in New Orleans, he saw men bought and sold in the slave markets. It is quite likely that this experience affected him deeply.

The “I” of “I’ve known rivers” can be deceptive because it really means “we.” Mr. Hughes does not speak for himself but for the whole race of Africans. The time gives us a clue. Hughes was born in 1912. He himself has not lived as long as “the flow of human blood in human veins.” Yet his race has.

Historically, major rivers have symbolized civilizations. The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers stood for Mesopotamia. The Congo stood for the Bantu people of what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Nile stood for Egypt. The Mississippi, of course, is a symbol of our own American civilization. Interestingly, the Bantu may have been some of the first human beings to live and to farm. The people of Africa and the Middle East have not always been oppressed. On the contrary, they were once titans, peerless in their power and progress.

What does it mean to say, “My soul has grown deep like rivers?” Pain and tragedy leave marks on our souls. Also, reflection on the past can be a tremendous source of insight and leads to strong character. I think, and I could be wrong, that Mr. Hughes is saying that the knowledge that some of his ancestors were slaves, some were Pharaohs, and some were great pioneers in manifold ways gives him a sense of peace. It gives him a sense that no matter what happens, he can rise above it, just as his ancestors before him did.

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Pros and Cons of Obamacare: The 8 Things You Need to Know

Pros and Cons of Obamacare: The 8 Things You Need to Know

Negatives

1.       Obamacare will cost the federal government $2.6 trillion for the years 2012 to 2022

“The first impact of Obamacare on the economy is its ever rising price tag. As recently reported at The Blaze, the revised cost estimates for the first full 10 years of Obamacare is now $2.6 trillion, almost three times the $900B President Obama had promised it would cost. This soaring cost, however, is only what government will be spending, not the additional costs of compliance borne by the private sector.”
American Thinker,   http://bit.ly/1cjxNa2

2.      Costs of Individual-Market Health Insurance are Estimated to Rise up to 30%

“Obamacare’s new, extreme insurance rules and regulations will have dire effects on the cost of coverage that individuals and small businesses purchase on their own. As Forbes columnist and health policy analyst Avik Roy has pointed out in recent articles, “Obama adviser Jonathan Gruber has estimated that, by 2016, the cost of individual-market health insurance under Obamacare, relative to what it would have been under prior law, will increase by an average of 19 percent in Colorado29 percent in Minnesota, and 30 percent in Wisconsin. A prestigious actuarial firm, Milliman, has estimated that individual-market premiums in Ohio could increase by 55 to 85 percent.’”

The Heritage Foundation, http://blog.heritage.org/2012/11/02/5-effects-obamacare-will-have-on-working-americans/

3.Full-time workers have turned part-time to avoid the employer mandate

“As Heritage predicted, businesses have already begun limiting the hours their employees can work, turning full-time workers into part-time workers, to avoid paying the employer mandate penalty or providing costly insurance coverage. For example, one of the nation’s 30 largest employers, Darden Restaurants, is experimenting with keeping employees under the 30-hour threshold established for Obamacare’s mandate. According to the Orlando Sentinel, “In an emailed statement, Darden said staffing changes are ‘just one of the many things we are evaluating to help us address the cost implications health care reform will have on our business.’”

The Heritage foundation, http://blog.heritage.org/2012/11/02/5-effects-obamacare-will-have-on-working-americans/

 

4.Small business face difficult economic and legal questions due to Obamacare.

“In the past, small companies with limited budgets could choose where or how much health coverage to offer, the law stipulates that companies not offering health coverage to all employees will be penalized . . . The deadline to comply with this portion of the law has been delayed (from  2014 to 2015). One can quickly see the domino effect of what such a major requirement would mean for a small business. Considerations such as hiring, growth management, financial projections and decisions around offering coverage or paying penalties, cash flow, the administrative burden of complying with the law and much more now has to be evaluated.  Not to mention the fact that in many cases this expertise or time to understand the law is often missing in small businesses that are consumed with trying to grow.”

Small Business Bonfire: http://smallbusinessbonfire.com/impact-obamacare-small-business

Positives

1.    Nine Million Americans are covered under Obamacare as of January 2014

“How many people are currently covered through the law? Start with the 1.1 million who have gotten care through the federal website. If you layer on the number of enrollees who have gotten coverage through state-run exchanges that number tops 2.1 million, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius announced Tuesday. Then throw in the 3.9 million people who have gotten health coverage under Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. Oh and don’t forget about the young adults under 26 who are still covered by their parents’ health insurance plans thanks to the Affordable Care Act. A year-and-a-half ago, the Department of Health and Human Services put the number at 3.1 million but an August study by the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that focuses on health policy research, estimated that the figure had reached 7.8 million. Total those numbers and you get a minimum of 9 million Americans covered through Obamacare and a maximum of nearly 14 million.”

Robert Schelsinger, Managing Opinion Editor, U.S. News and World Report: http://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2014/01/03/millions-of-people-have-health-insurance-because-of-obamacare

2. New Plans Will Now Cover More Care for Mental Health

“Although many large and small group insurance plans include services for some mental-health and substance-use illnesses, there are gaps in coverage. About one-third of those who are now covered in the individual market have no coverage for substance-use disorders and nearly 20 percent have no coverage for mental-health cases, including outpatient therapy visits and inpatient crisis intervention and stabilization, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. But starting next year, this will change for many workers. Under ACA, insurance plans offered in the new marketplaces will have to cover a core set of services called “essential health benefits.” Included on the list of 10 benefits are mental-health and substance-use disorder services, which include behavioral health treatment, counseling and psychotherapy.”

The Washington Post: http://wapo.st/1d0E8L1

3.      Obamacare Helps Sick People With Pre-existing Conditions Get Affordable Coverage

“Extending the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan will give tens of thousands of people with a history of cancer or another serious disease the security of knowing they will not face a costly gap in coverage on Jan. 1 if they cannot enroll in a marketplace plan by Dec. 23,” Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, said in a press release.

The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/12/pre-exisiting-conditions_n_4432754.html

4.      Tax Credits Will Give the Average Enrollee over $5,000 in 2014

 

“Americans making less than $45,960 as individual or $94,200 as a family of 4 may be eligible for free or low-cost health insurance due to cost assistance subsidies like Tax Credits that reduce premium costs and cost sharing subsidies that lower cost sharing on copays, coinsurance and deductibles. The CBO estimates the average marketplace subsidy per subsidized enrollee will be $5,290 in 2014” (Congressional Budget Office).

Obamacare Facts: http://obamacarefacts.com/obamacare-facts.php

Update: A reader and friend, Amelia, sent me a link to an article on FactCheck.Org, the premier website for political fact-checking, that will add to this discussion. They disagree with some claims I have made above. In the interest of giving readers a variety of perspectives, I am posting Amelia’s link below.

FactCheck: http://www.factcheck.org/2013/09/obamacare-myths/

Edited by Asad Jaleel

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Tasting Faith – Original Poem by Asad Jaleel

Tasting Faith by Asad Jaleel

I am with Adam and Eve in Eden

Pleading with them to drop the fruit.

I am a passenger on Noah’s Ark

Crying out to his son to get on board.

I watch Jesus raise the dead by God’s grace

And beg him to heal the diseases of my heart.

I pray behind Moses

As we ask the Lord to inspire our tongues.

My body shields Abraham from the fire

That he earned by smashing idols like trash.

It’s me pulling Joseph out of the well

Weeping for the heartache of Jacob.

 

The elephant is marching toward the Ka’aba

And I am a bird pelting it with stones.

I am at the outskirts of Ta’if.

Binding the wounds of Al-Amin.

Muhammad brought them the Light of Heaven

They repaid him with pain and ridicule.

 

When Allah is inviting you to the City of the Prophet,

Why are you wasting hours in Gotham, Mordor, and Tattoine?

It was disbelievers who called the book “mere fables.”

The believers heard God condemn wine

And dumped it like poison.

When Allah gave you a mind and His book,

You have water, why should you burn?

You want to live the Quran

Begin by living IN the Quran.

Dream of hell

Until your skin is scorched by the fire of your sins.

Dream of heaven

Until the juices of its fruits are on your tongue.

 

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Green Arrow and the Deadly Safari

Green Arrow and the Deadly Safari

green-bow-n-arrow-hi

 

1987 Limpopo, South Africa

“Take the shot, for the love of God, take the shot, Ollie!”

Ollie Queen was frozen. His words are stuck in his throat. His hands were trembling as he tried to steady his bow. The African sun was beating down on his back. Sweat trickled down his skin.

The lion roared as it plunged razor-sharp claws into Moira Queen. She tried to pull away from it as hard as she could, but all for naught. In seconds, her intestines were on the savannah floor.

“NO!!! NO!!! NO!!!” Ollie screamed, tears streaming down his pale face.

The insatiable lion now began to tear into Robert Queen, pinning his right arm to the ground.

“Ollie! Listen. I need you to pull the bow back and fire.”

“I can’t. Dad, I can’t.” Paralyzed with fear, he struggled to summon the courage to act.

“Son, this isn’t ea. . .” Robert could no longer speak. Hungry and snarling, the lion raked a paw across the wealthy industrialist’s throat.

Ollie Queen shrieked as he covered his face. He ran madly across the savannah, desperate to escape his parents’ fate. A mile away, he took shelter in the park’s infirmary tent.

The safari vacation had gone horribly awry. After seeing nothing but two wildebeest and an elephant, Robert Queen decided to seek some adventure. While his handlers tried to find a decent cup of tea, he had escaped. He had commandeered a Jeep and sat his young family inside – himself, his devoted wife Moira, and his ten-year old son Oliver. A few too many viewings of his favorite animated movie, Robin Hood, inspired Oliver to take up the bow and arrow. Robert stashed a pistol in the glove compartment for security. But at the crucial moment, Oliver lacked the nerve to shoot and Robert’s pistol sat in the closed compartment. Terrifying, vivid nightmares of this day would never cease to haunt Oliver Queen.

That was the day everything changed. His identity was transformed from the beloved son of two loving parents to an orphan. The tranquility of his previous nights gave way to nightmares, night terrors and on-again-off-again bouts of insomnia. The happiness and joy of his childhood was suddenly replaced with heavy burdens of self-hatred and guilt.

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Christmas for Non-Christians

1. If you don’t celebrate Christmas and feel trapped in the house on December 25th, check out these ideas for fun activities for Non-Christians on this day. It’s not just the obvious like movies and Chinese restaurants. What about booking a room in a local hotel?

http://lifehacker.com/5970307/what-to-do-on-christmas-when-you-dont-celebrate-it

2. Is Christmas a religious holiday or a cultural one? As a culture blogger, I try to stay on top of trends in American culture. The trend here is that more and more people, particularly younger generations, look at Christmas as a cultural holiday rather than as a religious one. Young men and women are less likely to believe in the traditional Christmas narrative than their older counterparts. By traditional Christmas narrative, I mean the story that Jesus (peace be upon him) was born of a virgin mother in Bethlehem. It includes elements like the Three Wise Men, the manger, and the Star of Bethlehem.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/18/christmas-non-religious_n_4453828.html

3. This is my first time exploring the website Squidoo and I like what I see. There is a lively discussion of users answering the question: Should non-believers in Christianity celebrate Christmas?

http://stazjia.squidoo.com/christmas-and-nonbelievers

war on xmas

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