Does Religion Still Matter?

Tonight, at 7pm—Central time—I’ll be joining a panel at Marquette University’s Islam Awareness Week. (This is an occasion during which Muslim students attempt to draw one’s awareness to parts of Islam one is unaware of. It’s like getting to know the neighbor you might not wish you had.) The topic for the panel is ‘Does Religion Still Matter?’ (Cramer 004E, if that means anything to you.) Before I tell you how I decided to answer, let me describe some other things that matter, for in the journey to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, many truths are revealed, and falsehoods obscured:

Sleep

Sleep also matters. Last night, I was inexplicably hungry two hours after dinner, but didn’t know where to go get food. I was in balmy Durham, North Carolina, where the daytime high had been 86 degrees. Gorgeousness, unparalleled. See, I love the warm. Heat. Sunshine. 

It’s my New England childhood versus thousands of years of evolution, insofar as my ancestry goes back to the Indian subcontinent, which tends to the more kinetically active side of things. So I was like, ‘Should I go out and eat?’ Or, ‘should I stay in and sleep? I have to be up at 5am for my flight.’

I’m on four hours of sleep right now, which is why I thought this blog post was a good idea. Worth not sleeping over, in other words. God bless.

Timing

I went out. Everything was closed. This is the problem with not-Manhattan. One must plan for things like nutrition, otherwise one can very well starve to death. I came back to the room, defeated and malnourished, and ordered a gigantic burger and a diet Coke, which was on reflection not a good idea—one day later and I’m still digesting that decision. (See also: not sleeping.)

Curiosity

By the time I got to the airport and through security, I was too tired for breakfast. I slept the whole flight from RDU to Charlotte, but once I’d landed in Charlotte, with only twenty minutes to transfer to my Milwaukee flight, I was starving. Famished. Broken. But the only breakfast option I trusted was Starbucks, and every single Starbucks had a line that resembled a breakdown of civilization at the baggage claim. So I did not do that. 

I stopped at a newsstand slash convenience kiosk and loaded up on protein bars and weird snacks, half of which I ate on the way to my gate, all of which amounted to more than what any reasonable breakfast should cost. Then I collapsed in a seat and tried to stay awake before boarding. Once my zone was called, I got up, walked in the opposite direction to the trash can, and saw, right beside my gate, just some paces beyond it had I bothered to look around, an Einstein Bros. bagel bar. In other words, breakfast, reasonable, and filling, and fulfilling.

Math

For reasons I do not understand, the flight to Milwaukee was made possible by what I can only dismissively describe as a commuter jet. It is the light rail of air traffic. I don’t know about you, but I can never bring myself to consistently believe that an object I cannot even stand up in can be trusted to take off, fly, and land many hundreds of miles away. Incidentally, flying such a small aircraft has an almost erotic effect. You don’t just fly through the atmosphere, you feel every barometric inch of it. It’s like a bad relationship you cannot understand, but on the upside, I don’t fit into the bathroom, either.

Global warming

It’s pouring cold rain and bleakly overcast in Wisconsin, which is the 32nd American state I’ve visited, whereas according to this pdf, Cramer is #28. It was so much nicer in northern North Carolina, where I found a wonderful theatre to watch Noah all by my lonesome in; just me, a Diet Coke the size of a small province, and a pretzel that I regretted even as I requested it. Incidentally, that is the first time I watched a movie after I wrote a review of the same, which suggests the immense creative and fiscal possibilities made possible by a relativistic universe or late industrial capitalism. The movie started off slow, but got quite interesting towards the end, which isn’t an inapposite summation of how Muslims see Noah’s life, peace be upon him.  

See you at the panel, perhaps. Or perhaps you’ll decide other things matter.  

moghul@gmail.com'

RD Senior Correspondent Haroon Moghul is a Fellow both at the Center on National Security at Fordham Law and with the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. Haroon is completing his doctorate at Columbia University and is the author of The Order of Light (Penguin, 2006). He's been a guest on CNN, BBC, The History Channel, NPR, Russia Today and al-Jazeera. 

 

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