Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Statuary Hall and the Inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama

Watching the inauguration coverage on ABC TV today, I learned something I didn't know. I had never heard of National Statuary Hall where the luncheon was held. Today I learned that it has held two statues for each state with people born in those states, so I decided to look up who represented Colorado.

1. Florence R. Sabin. She was born in Central City, Colorado, in 1871. She became the first woman to hold a full medical professorship in the United States, at Johns Hopskins, her alma mater, where she was also the first woman graduate. She is also famous for the "Sabin Health Laws" that modernized Colorado's public health system.

2. John Swigert - went by Jack. You may remember him as being portrayed by Kevin Bacon in the movie Apollo 13. Jack Swigert was one of 24 people in the world to have flown to the moon. He was elected to Congress but died of cancer before being sworn in. He was the first of the 24 to die, in 1982. In December 2008 John Swigert's statue was moved and displayed in Emancipation Hall at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center.

So who is in the Statuary Hall representing your state? (You can consider this a Meme and that you are tagged, if you wish.)

I watched the inauguration with my classes. Were I there, I would be overwhelmed by all the ritual and ceremony - too much going on for the sake of tradition, etc. - it would just make me tired.

A few things in his speech I liked:

"We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness."

I like that he pointed out the childishness of America and called on Americans to rise to higher ideals that we claim to hold but have not always lived up to. I like how he then called people to hard work to improve the situation we're in, noting that greatness is earned, not given, and that even though the task seems great, Americans and the rest of humanity have countless examples in their past of even greater accomplishments. This is one of Obama's strengths - as in the title of his book, he really does have the audacity to hope, and what is more, the will, energy, charisma, intelligence, and dedication to make things happen.

"To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect."

I am not sold on Obama's foreign policy, but I do expect it to be better than what we've had. And I think if he lives up to this call of mutual respect, that would be a great improvement over the current situation.

"This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny."

I appreciate his confidence because I think it is something the country could use right now. I also appreciate his faith, and his concept of accountability or responsibility in molding our individual destinies and our collective destiny. It doesn't just happen to us, we have some power and responsibility in making it.

I have a desire to be hopeful about this president, more so than any in my life so far. I think the cult of personality may be a bit overdone, but I still believe this could, God willing, be the beginning of better things to come. Time will tell.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year's in Otowi Blog History

First, a gift to all my readers - I think this is just lovely, and very suitable for a post about passage of time:

túrána hott kurdís by hasta la otra méxico! from Till Credner on Vimeo.

This is last year's New Year's Day post and it still really speaks to me:

Tuesday, January 01, 2008
Happy New Year

Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (a), while explaining the utterance of God Almighty, "That He might try you (to see) which of you is fairest in works." (67:2) said: "It does not mean one of you whose deeds are more numerous but one who is more rightful in his conduct, and this rightness is nothing but fear of God and sincerity of intention (niyyah) and fear." Then he (a) added: "To persevere in an action until it becomes sincere is more difficult than (performing) the action itself, and sincerity of action lies in this that you should not desire anyone to praise you for it except God Almighty, and intention supersedes action. Lo, verily, intention is action itself." Then he recited the Qur'anic verse, "Say, everyone acts in accordance with his character (shakilatihi)", (17:84) adding, "That shakilah means niyyah."
[Al Kulayni, al Kafi, vol. 2, kitab al iman wa al kufr, bab al 'ikhlas, hadith # 4]

Imam al Baqir (a) said: "Perseverance in an action is more difficult than the act itself." He was asked, "What is meant by perseverance in action?" He (a) replied, "A man does some kindness to a relative or expends something for the sake of God, Who is One and has no partner. Thereupon the reward of a good deed performed secretly is written for him. Later, he mentions it to someone and that which was written earlier is wiped out and instead the reward of a good deed performed openly is written for him. Later, when he makes a mention of it again, the vice of riya' (showing off) is written for him (instead of the reward written earlier)." [Al Kulayni al Kafi, kitab al 'iman wa al kufr, bab al riya', hadith # 16]

New Year's '07
post was about the best and worst movies I saw in 2006. Winner: The Prestige. Loser: Little Miss Sunshine. (2008's are detailed at Muslim Movie Review.) But in summary -

The winners:
Eagle Eye
Secret Life of Bees
Mamma Mia!
Kung Fu Panda
Nim's Island
Iron Man

And losers:
Four Christmases
My Best Friend's Girl
The Women
Don't Mess with the Zohan
every romantic comedy made in 2008 as far as I could tell

And on New Year's Eve Dec 31, 2006, I had posted about the weird lyrics (because they're in Scots) to Auld Lang Syne.

I didn't post on New Year's Day in '06, but my post from the 2nd I've decided to take as my New Year's Resolution for 2009:

Do not covet anything avariciously; for if you ignore it, it will come to you anyway, if it is destined to be yours. Then you would find ease in your heart with Allah swt, praise for leaving it.

But you will be blamed for your haste in (instead) seeking it, for not trusting Him, and for not being content with the decree. Allah swt created this world the same as a shadow: when you chase it, it tires you out and you can never catch up with it. If you leave it alone, it follows you inexorably, and gives you not cause for fatigue.

Imam Sadiq (as), Lantern of the Path

My New Year's Day post for 2006 was actually made on New Year's Eve in 2005:

Saturday, December 31, 2005
New Year

Happy New Year everyone, wishing you the best.

1. I hope this year would not find anyone facing the great disasters like the Tsunami or Katrina or the Pakistan Earthquake. In reality we know these things happen continually and may be happening more because of Global Warning (some of them), and if you are the one affected it doesn't matter if the disaster is one on a global scale or only your home. So maybe I should just wish that we all are safe in the new year and that we avoid disasters, and if we do face one that we recover easily and it brings out the best in us rather than the worst.

2. Last year I almost lost my father. But now he is better than he had been in years. I hope everyone gets to enjoy their families.

3. I have been divorced now just over a year, although I've been alone much longer. I hope everyone can find the love they need in the coming year if they don't have it already, and if they do have it, I pray they can nurture it and appreciate it.

4. I hope everyone finds good health this year - mental, physical, emotional and spiritual.

5. I hope if we make it to the end of this year, that we are better than when it started - mentally, physically, emotionally and especially spiritually.

6. I finished my Master's Degree this past year. I pray everyone is able to obtain their educational goals and continually learn and grow.

7. Now I have to pay that school loan! I pray for everyone that we could all get out of debt. Come on, Publisher's Clearinghouse. :)

I like all those sentiments but this year, I'd be talking about Gaza, Iraq, Mumbai, Pakistan, people losing jobs, etc.

No New Year's post for 2004 or 2005, but I do remember having one, maybe in 2005, in which I made some Resolutions. One was taking a multivitamin every day. I don't think it is 2005, maybe more recent. But I've deleted a few posts over the years and maybe that was one of them.

There are plenty of things I want to accomplish in 2009 related to health,job, finances, spirituality, and learning - around exercise and diet, enjoying and being more engaged in work, debt and budgeting, concentration in prayer, reciting Qur'an, building relationship with the Creator, learning new things.

On the learning new things note - I recently ordered this book from Paperbackswap.com that looks very neat - Merit Badge Book for Adult Women - basically to keep you learning new things.

But I think the resolution I've chosen will be hard enough, and supercedes all those other resolutions.

May you all have a blessed 2009.