Sunday, August 26, 2007

Quote on "Greatness"...

The glory of great men should always be measured by the means they have used to acquire it.
- Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Idioms + Multicultural Context = Humor :)

Whenever I return to the Southeast part of the US my accent thickens. Indian friends came to visit with us last summer and they laughed at how our language changed almost as soon as we stepped off the plane.

Along with the accent comes a fresh dose of American idioms. They are really easy to adopt and hard to rid from your thoughts and speech (as well as writing for that matter). Merriam-Webster says this:

Pronunciation: 'i-dE-&m
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle French & Late Latin; Middle French idiome, from Late Latin idioma individual peculiarity of language, from Greek idiOmat-, idiOma, from idiousthai to appropriate, from idios

2 : an expression in the usage of a language that is peculiar to itself either grammatically (as no, it wasn't me) or in having a meaning that cannot be derived from the conjoined meanings of its elements.

In a multicultural context they create misunderstandings that are humorous. Living in Dubai has trained me to try and expunge as many of these from my speech so I can communicate as clearly as possible with people of other cultures. But it's really hard to do and especially upon just returning. Here's a brief conversation I had with a fellow church member who had just returned from a Christian program in England.

Briggs: "We had a special speaker come in and address the group... I think his name was Colin Chapman..."

Me: "Wow... he's a real 'heavy-weight'"

Briggs: Actually he was a short and slim man.

I had a good laugh about this one on the way home this past Friday. If you want to read a funny article about idioms, or cliches, check out this short article in a recent Newsweek. It's short and very funny... especially the last paragraph.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Article: Fatwas (Islamic religious decrees) and the Internet

This is a fascinating article on the effect the internet has had on Islam and it's practice of issuing religious decrees or "fatwas". Here's the first several paragraphs to the article...

Cairo: The internet, satellite television and even the telephone are increasingly being used in the Muslim world to issue fatwas — religious decrees — on issues as varied as whether women can pluck their eyebrows or good Muslims should read Harry Potter.

A fatwa is a ruling by a recognised Islamic scholar, often on a weighty matter. But the traditional definition is becoming blurred as Muslims turn to Islamic websites and "tele-imams" for advice on how to live their lives.

For example, going online turns up the fatwa on British author J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books, banning reading about the boy wizard because of his ties to witchcraft.

Another says plucking women's eyebrows is "haram," or forbidden, because it alters God's creation. One exception: if the lady's bushy brows displease her husband.

Dubai... of 'Travel Channel' fame

One thing that struck me this summer in the U.S. was how much more known Dubai is these days as compared with when we moved here 5 years ago. Back then people still didn't know where the country was or anything about the culture or landscape. Now it's different largely due to television exposure. Shows and newspaper articles describing the latest construction project or tourist spot have been popping up rapidly over the past couple years and this past year they seem to be everywhere.

As a resident I have mixed feelings about the notoriety. The shows give the impression that I might live in a high priced hotel or hang out at expensive tourist spots regularly. Or they give the impression that Dubai and the UAE are a first world country. It's not true of course. The country has made enormous strides in the past decade but it's just all that the marketing makes it out to be. But perhaps I'm just being defensive because I don't want to be seen as a person who lives in opulent luxury all the time... driving expensive cars, spending half the day at the spa and the other half shopping at upscale stores.

As I reflect on these things it reminds me of how much the media shapes how we think about other places and peoples in the world. And unless you've been there yourself it's difficult to get an idea of what places are like. But it does remind me to be careful and thoughtful as I watch or read popular media. Everything isn't all that it seems to be when it's coming through the television.

The Burj Dubai is the Tallest... in the World!

The Burj Dubai hit the "tallest in the world" mark this summer while we were away. And boy, it sure is looking it's height now. It easily soars above everything else around it. We can see it from our front door or at least from our front gate. I'll try to include a personal pic tomorrow or later today.

How a Bible Verse can be Dangerous

Any single verse of the Bible, taken in isolation, may
actually be dangerous to your spiritual health. Every part of
it must be read in relation to the whole message.
... Louis Cassels (1922-1974)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Back after the Break: Jet Lag

I didn't blog from the U.S. this summer. The time was just too busy and involved too much travel. And now we're back in Dubai as of last night. It feels good to be back at "home" here on the Peninsula.

But now we're "jet-lagging". Jet lag is a funny thing. It sneaks up on you when you don't expect it. One moment you're feeling fine and you're thinking that you just might have avoided it. Then 'boom', you're struggling to stay standing and it's 11am. Then you remember that 11am here is actually about 2am back in the U.S. Aha. Your body; fooled again. And if you lay down? Wow... watch out! It feels like your body weighs 3x as much as before and you're stuck in quicksand. You... just... want... to... keep... sleeeeeeppppiiinnnnngg... zzzzzz.

And so the cycle will continue for 4 or 5 days. You just have to give yourself lots of grace and work during your 'peak' times.