how many presidents does it take to change a lightbulb?

Lighbulb? I'm happier in the dark...

Caveat: usage of passive voice, confusing structure, and weak adverbs is meant to be a clumsy stylistic metaphor for my own passivity, confusion, and weakness.

Someone who I am forced to deal with fairly often and closely told me recently that "As long as there are Muslims, we are in danger." As an amusing game to pass time at your boring job, you could take out the word "Muslim" and fill in with all sorts of things:

As long as there are McDonalds, we are in danger.
As long as there are drivers with cell phones, we are in danger.

Try it. It's fun!

Anyway, someone this person knows is reading the Qur'an, and she said that he said that there are a lot of passages in it that urge "death to the infidels." I own a Qur'an and I've read bits of it. I haven't yet found the passages she referred to so second-handedly, and having not read it herself she could not direct me to any specific sections. I did an index search on disbelievers and came up with several(!) references. I looked up four at random, and they all seemed to refer to Judgement Day or some reminder of God's previous wrath. Islam hardly has a patent on either of those concepts. But, while we're pulling stuff out of context, I did see that the third sentence reads:

Guide us to the straight path: the path of those You have blessed, those who incur no anger, and who have not gone astray.

those who incur no anger... Sounds like Allah doesn't want us to make Him or others mad. Sounds pretty reasonable, actually.

I replied that one could say the same thing about the Bible and its thumpers--inflicting conversion or war upon disbelievers, what with the whole separation of church and state concept rapidly flying out the sunroof. Where is that Stephen Parrish, sweeping in with a quote, when you need him?? Oh, and bring wine, Stephen--two bottles. This could be a long, unsatisfying discussion.

"Yes," she said. "But the central message of Christianity is not to kill the unbelievers."

Funny, that's what so many people say about Islam. My religion has been usurped by more than one violent village idiot, as no doubt countless Muslims believe of their own faith. I'd say we're both right, when 700 Muslims die a month in Iraq at the hands of extremists, the primary example of which is a purported Christian "president". And I use that word president in the loosest sense of its definition.

But then, one would not bother to criticize the Republican Rubbish we call President in front of this particular person. Frankly, there isn't enough good wine in the world to get me through that battle.

Instead, I took this tactic: "I am a very tolerant person," I said through gritted teeth, cuz CERTAIN PEOPLE test my tolerance greatly. "Christianity, Islam, and Judaism all have a lot of hatred to answer for. However, I am a believer--I buy the whole Christ story. I'm even searching for a new church which better represents my belief--that no god, whether he goes by Allah or God or Jesus or whoever, condones killing in His name."

That pretty well shut her up. Plus, dinner was served, though by that time I'd lost my appetite for anything but wine.

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