Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s plan to reform Islam

I have been a fan of Ayaan Hirsi Ali since reading and discussing her book Infidel on this blog several years ago, so I was pleasantly surprised to see her being interviewed on Real Time with Bill Maher last night to promote her new book Heretic: Why Islam Needs A Reform Now. During the interview, she explained exactly how she believes Muslims need to change their religious views.

  1. Change the attitude towards the Koran and Muhammad. The book is not a driver’s manual, and the man is not infallible.
  2. Stop investing in life after death, but concentrate on life before death.
  3. Give up Sharia law completely.
  4. Individual citizens should not be able to police and punish their counterparts.
  5. Eliminate jihad. Replace “holy” wars with holy peace.

Her goals are lofty and unrealistic to be sure, but they shine an important light on the most egregious elements of religious extremism.

Bill Maher, who often gets criticized by liberals for his brazen views on Islam, asked Ali why she believes liberals need to stand up to the intolerant aspects of Islam instead of constantly worrying about being politically correct.

The cancer of Islamic extremism is an assault on liberalism, on liberal ideas… Protect the life of the human being, the freedom of the human being, equality of human beings. That’s what it is an assault on. Islamic extremists divide the world into “us” and “them.” And the ones they deem to be “them,” even if they are pious Muslims, they kill them, they subjugate them, they sell them into slavery, they rape the women, and they destroy arts and civilization. And we see it on a daily basis.

If you are a liberal, and you really truly believe in the principles of liberalism, you have got to stand up to the challenge of the day, and that is Islamic extremism.

Celebrating 10 years

A couple of weeks ago, Honey and I celebrated our 10th anniversary. Because we aren’t married (and can’t get married in our home state of Kentucky), we annually recognize the day we first met.

We wanted to travel somewhere special for our big year, so we decided on Savannah, Georgia. This was a first visit for both of us, but some of our friends have been there and highly recommended it. We settled on a condo in Tybee Island, which is about 20 minutes from historic downtown Savannah, and made reservations at a few restaurants that looked promising.

Our condo was beautiful and inviting, with floor to ceiling windows facing the Atlantic Ocean. We could sit on our balcony and watch gigantic commercial freighters slowing going out to sea, before they dropped out of sight on the horizon.

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View from our condominium.

We visited Paula Deen’s Lady & Sons restaurant for lunch on our second day in town, and it was just as delicious as expected. We walked off some of the buttery goodness with a long trek to Forsyth Park to see the famous fountain filled with mermen.

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The Lady & Sons Restaurant in Savannah.

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Fountain at Forsyth Park.

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Live oaks with Spanish moss in Savannah.

The weather had been overcast and rainy for our first 2 days of vacation, but things changed dramatically when our actual anniversary arrived. I snapped a photo of a beautiful sunrise from our balcony as my heart almost exploded from contentment.

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Sunrise on our 10th anniversary!

We learned of a movie being shot on the beach about a mile from where we were staying, so we walked there to do a little snooping. Zac Efron’s character takes his grandfather (Robert DeNiro) to spring break in Daytona Beach, Florida, but they chose Tybee Island for filming because it wasn’t as crowded.

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Movie set for Zac Efron and Robert DeNiro movie.

We chose Alligator Soul as our dinner spot for the evening, and it was the nicest restaurant I had ever entered. I felt slightly out of place as our waiter completely reset the table between courses (and even used a crumb scraper on the table cloth), but it was a lovely experience with incredible food.

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Lamb chops from Alligator Soul in Savannah.

The next day was our final full day in Tybee Island, so we decided to take advantage of the gorgeous weather with a dolphin tour. I didn’t really have high expectations, but Captain Derek’s Dolphin Adventure knew exactly where to go to get the amazing creatures to interact with the boat. It was definitely one of the high points of our trip!

For our final dinner on vacation, we gorged ourselves on seafood at The Crab Shack. Our “Dinner for Two” included snow crab legs, shrimp, crawfish (yuck), mussels, potatoes, corn on the cob, and sausage. It was pretty amazing. We enjoyed seeing the baby ‘gators outside in the lagoon.

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Dinner at The Crab Shack.

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Young alligators at The Crab Shack.

It is amazing how fast ten years can go by. I am so proud of our relationship, and so thankful to be sharing my life with such an outstanding person. I am looking forward to the future with great hope (here’s looking at you, Supreme Court!), and I feel like one of the luckiest people alive.

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Spring 2015

After an extremely long and harsh winter, things have finally come to life all over our property, and the surroundings seem to get greener by the day.

Here are a few photos from recent weeks.

Casting stones

Each day, when I browse the news and look at social media, I see countless stories concerning religion that make me sick at heart. Whether it is someone committing mass murder in the name of Islam, a “Christian” refusing to bake a cake for a gay couple, or a politician trying to appeal to his conservative base by making disparaging remarks about same-sex marriage, it all makes me completely disgusted with religion.

The only problems I have ever had from being openly gay are because of people who have been blinded by their religion. I have had people tell me I am going to hell. People who have given me books about how God can make me straight. Family members who refuse to be around my partner at family functions. Anonymous people who have harassed me and called me names online. People I know who have done the same.

The common denominator between all of these activities has been religion. Specifically Christianity. How someone can follow Christ and know anything about him, yet allow bigotry and hatred to overcome their thoughts and actions is unconscionable.

I am glad I am gay, mainly because I have had to question things that some take for granted. It has made life more difficult, but I feel like I can see things more clearly than so many who use their faith as shields while they throw stones at anyone they deem abnormal and unworthy of love.

New plants for 2015

It is easy for me to go stir-crazy this time of year, because the weather doesn’t typically cooperate enough for me to work in the yard. So, I spend my time planning which changes I intend to make to the landscaping, and ordering new plants online. Good for my cabin fever; bad for my wallet.

These three plants will be joining us in a few weeks:

'Aphrodite' Sweetshrub

‘Aphrodite’ Sweetshrub

I am a big fan of sweetshrubs due to the lovely one I discovered in the yard when we moved here 5 years ago, so I was very excited to see Proven Winners debut a sweetshrub that actually enhances the best features of my older plant. The intoxicating blooms of ‘Aphrodite’ are larger and it has a longer blooming period.

The Rising Sun Redbud

The Rising Sun Redbud

I could not believe my eyes when I stumbled across this gem online! This small redbud blooms normally, but the real show begins when the leaves emerge in a peach color before maturing to dark green. Apparently, keeping it watered and fertilized forces the show to continue throughout the growing season.

Akatsuki Dogwood

Akatsuki Dogwood

This small tree has stunning variegated leaves and large flowers that open white before gradually turning pink. It blooms longer than most dogwoods, and has excellent fall color.