Developing Discipline

Despite the large gaps and few posts on this blog, the TwoPennyPosts is a project dear to me. I have actually started writing new posts many times. An idea catches my attention, I write it out, but then I take too long and try too hard to make every post some sort of gem. In the end, I always become discouraged and lose my first enthusiasm, whereupon the post gets discarded. So now I’m looking for some subject with which to discipline myself into well-paced and dependable writing.

Movies and games are common enough blog materials. I enjoy them, I enjoy critiquing media, and there are plenty of materials available to keep me queued with topics. But in the end, I get a lot of my dialogue about media with my immediate friends and family, and writing it out on paper is rarely as rewarding to me as the back-and-forth of conversation. Unless the movie is like “Maleficent,” where not many of my friends had seen it and not many were interested in dissecting it after having done so, I do not feel like reliving old conversations (and moreover rewriting my friends’ inspirations as if my own). There is too much quality commentary on those subjects for me to feel like I’ve something interesting to contribute.

I want to encounter something new. As said before, I am a WASP, whose every world history class has climaxed in the accomplishments of the United States as a world power. Mongols, Mughals, and Huns were all vaguely the same entity. Mouth-service was paid to the accomplishments of China and Japan, but any deeper examination of their politics, philosophies, or great leaders was missing. This enormous gap in my knowledge disturbs me. Okay, I was never actually as ignorant as to confuse the Mongols with the Huns, but I would never have been able to explain the specific motivations and cultures of each group except to murmur about horses and pillaging. And this is not something that I haven’t been rectifying over the years. I have already embarked upon the Arabic language as a vehicle to carry me into this historical gap. Considering the large amount of the world that has some connection to Arabic at least religiously, it seemed like a good starting place.

So why not read the Quran?

Obviously this is a very charged subject, and I’m a little nervous about the negative attention I might receive with my reviews. Some people might demand that I am to hate it and others might demand that I am to love it. Rather than going out to prove or disprove the Quran, my ambition is to get a sense of it’s religious beliefs, particularly as a criticism of Christianity. I am also struck by the fact that while I often hear a lot of what people have to say about what the Quran says, I’ve never seen the book analyzed in a way that actually looks at the text itself and in context with itself. I want to read the book directly and take the time to give it a fair chance to speak and build up its ideas.

I’ll be reading in English, mind you. My Arabic is not so advanced as to understand the Shakespearean level that is Qur’anic Arabic. I’ve already found a good app to read it with, “Holy Qur’an English,” on the Google play store. It’s a very pretty app, with almost too much translation aid (but as I’m learning Arabic, I’ll go ahead and keep that available).

But already the app is raising my questions. What’s a Juz? Why do they specify surahs as Meccan and Medinian? Where do the chapter names come from? Are the chapters in different genres? Also, some of these chapters are much, much longer than others. How much do I want to cover in a week? Is there some greater organization to know before I start reading? I myself would not recommend reading the Bible from front to back as a general first experience. Is there a better reading order to the Qur’an?

My goal this week is to do some research and get a structural grip on what I’m diving into. Gather some logistics, set a battle plan, figure out some context. Then I’ll start my official reading.

Until then, مع السلامة!