Saturday, March 10, 2007


Thanks to Blondie for hosting a terrific BC on Wednesday! Great turnout, great food, GREAT discussion. We started out with canapés topped with shrimp and roasted baby tomatoes, followed by chicken tortilla soup and quesadillas with guacamole (definitely a BC cookbook entry!) and a salad, and all polished off by chocolate chip bread pudding with crème fraiche. Lish!

Better get right to the book. Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Infidel was one of the all time greats of BC discussion. The rating was 7.6, but that number belies how much this book was loved. El Jefe rated it a lowball 6.5, partly to counteract the Infidel frenzy: both Blondie and the Foxx came in strong with 10's, and La Mademoiselle almost went there too. People were absolutely floored by this woman's tale and touched and inspired by her courage. We literally talked about the book from the moment everyone arrived until dessert was finished. Although our discussion touched on many different aspects of the book, from Ayaan's relationship with her mother to the different factions of Islam throughout the world to the author's writing style, to a comparison with the Glass Castle, we really had the most to say about her internal struggle to accept Islam, culminating with her ultimate rejection of religion altogether. We talked about whether Islam was different from any other extremist religion: Is it any more violent than Catholicism has been throughout the ages? Is it any more oppressive than Hasidic Judaism to women? Is it any more abusive to children than fundamentalist Christianity, brainwashing them to speak in tongues? We probed Ayaan's turmoil in dealing with Islam, the way for so many years of her life and even into adulthood long after moving to Holland, she waffled between being a believer and an unbeliever and then--why the dramatic break into atheism? Why couldn't she become comfortable with a modified version of Islam that incorporated peaceful and rational concepts and had a place for individuality? That is what she had been trying to rationalize all along but at the last minute she abandoned the idea of a "modern" Islam in favor of atheism. Finally, we talked about the author's shocking position that Islam is inherently violent and oppressive--this thesis sounds so incredibly un-PC to all of us brought up to respect the differences in other cultures and never make sweeping assumptions about them.

The next book club will be on April 4 at Ms. K's house. The Doctor and the Foxx are bringing apps and dessert (I'm not sure which is which-please touch base with each other to decide). We are continuing our memoir streak with A Long Way Gone, by Ishmael Beah. (Not surprisingly, this comes up as a recommended book on Amazon for anyone who bought Infidel!)

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