Sunday, June 1, 2014

Another trip begins!

DAY ONE: We've started another trip west. There is so much to tell about the past few weeks at home, and so little chance to tell it. At the moment I am in a motel in Painesville OH just outside Cleveland. We had a long drive yesterday - just over 600 miles. We left the house a bit after 9am, drove to Northampton to leave off some presents for the girls and then got on the Mass Pike, on to the NY Thruway. We went down through Penn Yan (where I lived in the 1960's) because Siri told us the Penn Yan Diner would be open until 7pm (Yes, I have a new iPhone!), but Siri was wrong. At 5pm, when we arrived, it was already closed. But we had a nice supper and ice cream at Seneca Farms Dairy, and ate outdoors - lovely.

Supper at Seneca Farms in Penn Yan, NY
Then on through Hammondsport and Bath, NY, on to the Southern Tier Expressway, west to Erie, PA and on to Paineville, arriving at the motel at about 10:30pm. A long day's drive, but I read aloud from Richard Feynmann's Six Easy Pieces, Feynmann being a charismatic physicist at CalTech who revolutionized physics in the mid-20th century and had a knack for explaining physics to the "layman." We also listened to Teaching Company lectures on the Nature of Evil - very interesting. Evil as the absence of good in Augustine, the yetzer ha'ra in Judaism and the figure of Iblis in Islam.

Iblis refused to "bow down" before Adam  

The role of Iblis, the Islamic "Satan" is very paradoxical. He is cast out of Allah's  presence because he refused, at Allah's command, to bow down to Adam at his creation - he felt  that as a "jinn" who was made of fire, he was superior to Adam, made of mud - so he is presumably cursed for his haughtiness.  But some Sufi commentators point out that he is also the true monotheist, refusing to worship anything less than God Himself. The lecturer suggested that perhaps this indicates a willingness in at least some Islamic theology to allow that a fanatical devotion to religion can be evil in itself. Worth pondering.

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