Monday, May 7, 2012

The Brain Versus the Heart

The brain is the most complex organ in the body.  It is convoluted, complicated, and mysterious.  It can be beautiful, musical, and philosophical.  But it can also be mathematical, calculating and cold...especially when it gets in the way of the heart!
-  Nico Rahm

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I Caused Pain to Love Again

We fear.
We fear failure and disappointment.
We fear pain and torture.
We fear the uknown and the unexplained. 
We fear love.

While not all of us fear love, most do. By that I mean the subconscious repulsion we sometimes feel when we are drawn to another soul.  The fear that we might become attached makes us want to run away, to push off, to hide. The fear of being destroyed, our hearts ripped apart makes us want to be alone, to feel nothing, to build walls never to be scaled. 

It was not until today that I learned the term Philophobia;  the abnormal, unwarranted and persistent fear of falling in love.  It is a psychological condition by which someone cannot or will not be drawn emotionally close to others. It may begin as an extreme reaction to a broken heart, a bitter divorce, or an abusive relationship, but then can lead to generalized anti-social behaviour where the sufferer isolates him/herself from close relationships, including family and friends.

I remember when I built my walls, protecting my heart, to heal it and rebuild it. I closed off.  I turned to instant gratification, pleasure without emotion. I spiraled into a vortex of superficial happiness, masking the deeper shades of my pain.  But something odd occurred; I became a heart breaker!  The pleasures that I sought turned into swords of torture to others.  I felt their pain, their anguish.  I was a vampire feeding off their bleeding hearts in order to heal my own. I did not do this conscioussly mind you, I was in a feeding frenzy, eyes shut and mind euphoric as I gorged.

I awoke from my stupor and surveyed the aftermath of my gluttonous feast.  I heard cries and witnessed pain. I stood on red soaked ground and gazed upon a lanscape stained by dying hearts.  Intense guilt coarsed through me, pouring out of my eyes, and flooding my cheeks.  It was then and only then that my heart was ready once more.  I ceased all motion, frozen in time, contemplating the irony of it all.

I felt pain and feared love; I caused pain to love again.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Why Are African-Americans So Religious?

I work in a city of predominantly African-American residents, which one can describe as sub-par in living and economic standards.  While nail salons, barber shops, and chicken restaurants abound the extensive number of Churches is what catches my attention on my morning drive to my office.  So I asked my self, why do I personally notice more churches in African-American residential areas than other areas?  Why does it seem that the Church is an important social gathering point to African-Americans more so than any other race im America? 

Source: Pew Forum U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, conducted in 2007, released in 2008

According to the Pew Forum U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, conducted in 2007 and published in 2008, almost 80% of African-Americans view religion as very important in their daily lives, while 56% of the rest of the U.S. adult population have the same views.  Nearly 90% of African-Americans polled say that they have 'absolutely certain belief in God' compared to only about 70% of the U.S. adult population. About 55% of African-Americans say they attend religious worship at least once a week, while only about 40% of the U.S. population do the same.  At least, the great people at the Pew Forum support my informal observations.  But, why? Why do we see these numbers in the African-American population?

Since the link between extreme religious adherence and poor economic status is correlated at a significant statistical level as shown by numerous studies from around the world, I would have to assume that the reason for the relevant difference in religiousity is due to the fact that African-Americans, especially those of Southern states, are poorer and less educated.  In fact, according the Pew Forum Survey about 63% of African-Americans who did not graduate from highschool belong to an historically predominant black church as compared to 53% of those with college degrees.  One would assume that if the economic and educational status of an individual is highly correlated with religious adherence then the 10% difference observed here is not satisfactory. I would have liked a larger difference.  So while these reasons might explain the religiousity of African-Americans in the U.S. to a certain point, there must be another reason.  Something that might not be easily quantifiable.

I ran across a blog post from 2007 by Masala Skeptic, in which he asks the very same question but travels down a different path for the answer; a socio-historical line of reasoning.  Blacks were never allowed to attend white churches, espeically in southern states, so they built their own.  These black churches quickly became the social and educational centers of the black community, especially since blacks were never allowed to read any books except bibles.  I found this very interesting and enlightening.

According the Pew Forum study about 55% of African-Americans interpret the scriptures literally as compared to only 30% of the rest of the U.S.!  Since the church is the cultural beacon for the black community, what chance do their impressionable young have in breaking this cycle of intellectual and economic oppression?  The way I interpret the statistical and historical facts would suggest that it does not matter if young African-Americans graduate from college and emerse themselves in intellectual endeavours.  As long as their community is tightly built around their churches, they stand no chance at breaking free from religious beliefs.  And since more than half believe in the scriptures literally, their educational endeavours might as well be a waste of time.  There has to be a cultural shift away from the church, and not just an educational one, for the African-American community to rise in the socio-economic ladder.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christopher Hitchens Dies at 62 from Cancer!

After more than two years, what finally brought me back to this blog, and re-ignited the literary fire within me, was the death of Christopher Hitchens (April 13, 1949 – December 15, 2011).

One of the most intellectual and eccentric writers, and free thinkers of our generation had finally lost his battle with cancer. The author of God is Not Great and The Portable Atheist, in his own words...

Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Choosing Allah Over Love

Nico Rahm

I would like to touch upon a certain topic that I take to heart. My wife and I have been together for over a decade and I am only thirty years old! This is because religious subscription and faithful belief in a God does not rank atop my list of qualities that I aim to find in a suitable life-long soul mate. Yet, choosing a wife or husband based on religious views is important to billions of people across the world.

Today, I was discussing my relationship with a close friend of mine who is Muslim, and of course, had no knowledge of my Atheism. He had just broken the heart of a young woman who was a beautiful person inside and out. He was respectful in the sense that he did not allow himself to succumb to temptation, purely for religious reasons. While he had participated in sexual embracing with her he had not even once completed the sexual journey, for a lack of a better description. He loved her. She loved him back, so much so that she was willing to convert to Islam in order to be with him. She began reading books on Islam to learn about its culture; music, food, and customs. Yet, for all her effort at the end, she stood no chance. My friend’s love for Allah was strong enough to force him to end the relationship because he could not put aside the fear of a possible reversal of her faithful leap to Islam in the future.

My friend gave up what might have been the journey of a lifetime with a loving, caring and accommodating soul mate for the improbable existence of a heavenly creator.

His loss!