As we enter the second week of Ramadan, hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world continue to fast as a prescribed spiritual practice in the Islamic faith tradition. Last year, as a part of an ongoing journey within the interfaith movement and my own spiritual formation, I chose to participate in this month long act of spiritual observance. This year I chose to follow the practice again because of the powerful affect it had on me. Only this year, something feels different about the experience. Something feels off, unnatural, and confusing. So, on Sunday night, I decided to stop my observance of Ramadan. But, why? What changed?
By highlighting the benefits of my experience with Ramadan from last year and the subsequent changes it brought about it my life throughout the last year, I may begin to arrive at an answer. Ramadan profoundly changed my life last year. It has been by far the most powerful spiritual month of my life. It taught me about the relationship between food and drink and spirituality. It gave me the tools to eat more ethically and compassionately. This month also gave me a greater reverence for the mystery and beauty of the divine, the sacred source of all life. Read the rest of this entry
A couple days ago, I commented on the state of transitions in this country, namely how we, as a collective people, view and prepare for changes in our lives. In that article, I discussed some concerns I had about how our social structure fails to embrace this change and effectively prepare individuals who are going through transitions, ranging from coming of age to graduation to death. My hope is to reflect in this article on ways to make this transition more beneficial for all.
I write this as I just completed my last final exams at DePaul just over an hour ago. It is a time of great transition in my life and therefore this topic is of personal importance, as well. The concern I have with the issue at hand is that I feel that the transitions we face in life our not fully being embraced and recognized in all of the beauty and complexity they possess. It is an odd occurrence because innovation and change is appreciated and encouraged quite a lot in the marketplace in this country.
I could hear my heart thumping, racing wildly, twisting and turning uncomfortably, wanting to get out. I squirmed in my seat, attempting to find that right position where I could both see, but also hide from what I was witnessing. My thoughts were all over the place, non-linear, even illogical at times. And my spirit was distressed, pained by the many words and experiences from the night. The concepts of patience and universal respect were hard for me to maintain last night as I sat in Cortelyou Commons with dozens of other DePaul students, listening to Ann Coulter discuss politics, religion, and other social issues.
Her talk was entitled, “What Your Professor Will Never Teach You,” a purposefully suggestive title, but relevant as some students at DePaul, namely the College Republicans who invited her, believe that 100% of Political Science professors at this school are either liberal or “something other than conservative.” While I am a bleeding heart liberal, any allegation of that nature inspires me to reflect on both its validity and what implications such a lopsided Political Science Department might have on the students within those classes (and if the trend is contagious, students from around the country). Ultimately, there is a much more serious and less logistical reflection to be had; I ask myself how do I, as a person of faith, react and respond to a person like Ann Coulter and the views that she expressed so forcefully last night.