Brass crescent awards

by Chris Bertram on January 13, 2005

Via the Head Heeb , I see that alt.muslim is hosting the Brass Crescent Awards for the best blogs by Muslims. There are also awards for the most insightful post and for blogs by non-Muslims that engage respecfully with Islam. Juan Cole , Jonathan Edelstein , Scott Martens and Gary Farber [previously accidentally omitted] all get nominated in various categories. An opportunity for us to explore the diversity of the Islamic blogosphere.

{ 31 comments }

1

Ophelia Benson 01.13.05 at 8:05 pm

Where’s the site that hands out the Brass Cross awards for the best blogs by Christians? Along with awards for blogs that engage respectfully (which I suppose means uncritically?) with Christianity? I am so keen to explore the diversity of the Christian blogosphere. What could possibly be more fascinating.

2

Chris Bertram 01.13.05 at 8:17 pm

If you read what Scott Martens writes on Fistful, Juan Cole’s Informed Comment or Jonathan’s Head Heeb, you just wouldn’t be tempted to describe them as “uncritical”. Once again, Ophelia, your _a priori_ view of how the world must be is getting in the way of you seeing how it actually is.

(And, for the record, I’m sure there are many many interesting blogs by Christians out there.)

3

Ophelia Benson 01.13.05 at 8:46 pm

The question about ‘respectfully’ was a question, not a statement, and it was a question about the meaning of the word, as opposed to a supposition about the content of the blogs.

And I’m sure there are interesting blogs by Christians out there – in fact I even know of some: there’s H.E. Baber’s The Enlightenment Project, for instance. But are they special? Are they an opportunity?

4

Giles 01.13.05 at 9:24 pm

“respectful=:marked by or showing respect or deference”

which I think means not critical.

5

mg 01.13.05 at 9:45 pm

Giles, I respectfully disagree.

6

Joe M. 01.13.05 at 9:50 pm

Out of curiosity, how do we know that Juan Cole isn’t Muslim himself? His biographical page (linked from his blog) says that “[h]e married the former Shahin Malik in Lahore in 1982, and they have one son, Arman, born in 1987 . . . .” Isn’t it possible that he became Muslim himself somewhere along the way? Has he ever said?

Incidentally, why did he change his name from “John” to “Juan”? His genealogy page begins with this listing: “John (Juan) Ricardo Cole (b. 1952 in Albuquerque, N.M.).”

7

Ralph Luker 01.13.05 at 10:19 pm

Has anybody else noticed something really odd about this discussion? It begins with a peculiar assumption that the blogs nominated for awards are — ipso facto — unworthy of consideration by reason of the nature of the category; and it continues to strange insinuation about the religion and first name of a distinguished historian. Really, this borders on the disgraceful.

8

Giles 01.13.05 at 11:01 pm

John (Juan) Ricardo Cole in bio

but

Juan R. I. Cole on page.

So he’s not only changed his name but also added another name “I”.

Cole definitely deserves a “shifty award”

9

Joe M. 01.14.05 at 12:01 am

I’m not making “strange insinuations” at all. I don’t care if Juan Cole is Muslim, and I never gave any indication otherwise. If he is, wonderful for him. I really mean that. It’s just that having seen him definitively classified as “non-Muslim,” I’m honestly curious.

The John/Juan question is also out of pure curiosity. While I’ve heard of immigrants to America deciding to anglicize their names, I’ve frankly never heard of any native-born American doing the opposite. Or maybe his parents named him “Juan” but he used “John” at some point, and has now changed back? In any event, it’s an intriguing question. (I can’t even imagine what “insinuations” you are thinking of here. If someone asks in all innocence, “Was the name of the New York politician ‘Daniel’ or ‘Patrick’ Moynihan?”, would you respond by accusing him of making “strange insinuations”? Does it not occur to you that people might ask a question out of simple curiosity?)

10

Giles 01.14.05 at 1:05 am

There’s also a suggestion that John/Juan is Bahai – since he writes about it alot.

http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jrcole/bahai.htm

11

Giles 01.14.05 at 1:19 am

Actually I’m wrong – according to this Juan/John used to be a Bahai

http://www.maryams.net/dervish/archives/000172.html

Baha’is believe in the Oneness of God. This leads them to believe in the Oneness of Religion, the “changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future.” In this sense, the Baha’i Faith is related to all past religions. Its roots however, are in the religion which immediately preceded it, Islam. This relationship is analogous to that between Christianity and Judaism. This has led sometimes to the inaccurate perception of the Baha’i Faith as a sect of Islam.

Before we go any further, it should be stated that the Baha’i Faith , unequivocally, and without any hesitation, teaches and asserts the divine origin of Islam. It affirms that the Holy Qur’an is God’s revelation, pure and unaltered, and that Muhammad (PBUH) is God’s Servant and Messenger and the Seal of the Prophets. People from every religious and ethnic background who embrace the Baha’i Faith, embrace this belief.

http://bci.org/islam-bahai/notasect.html

all very wierd!

12

junius ponds 01.14.05 at 5:05 am

That Juan Cole is former Baha’i is no secret, considering he has mentioned it at least once in a blog post.

Google turns up a “personal statement”:
http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jrcole/bahai/1999/persdec.htm

13

Ralph Luker 01.14.05 at 7:39 am

Joe, At best, it seems a little provincial. I blog with 15 other people, most of whom I’ve never met. It doesn’t occur to me to ask them what their religion is or why their name is this and not that.

14

dave heasman 01.14.05 at 11:25 am

Ophelia opines : –
“Where’s the site that hands out the Brass Cross awards for the best blogs by Christians? Along with awards for blogs that engage respectfully (which I suppose means uncritically?) with Christianity?”

Assuming you’re serious, it’s surprising you’ve not come across this : –

http://slacktivist.typepad.com/slacktivist/

or this : –

http://www.livejournal.com/users/bellatrys/

and maybe this is still going: –

http://blogs.salon.com/0001772/

They’re not going for awards, probably because there are a host of Christian blogs and in the US they can sort out their own publicity. Muslim ones, in general, can’t and don’t. The blogosphere isn’t permeated with Muslim imagery, concepts and culture, so there’s a move to give a little publicity to Muslim blogs. For a militant atheist of course this is a bad thing, anything that even mentions religion must be denied the oxygen of publicity (poor old Fafnir).

“I am so keen to explore the diversity of the Christian blogosphere. What could possibly be more fascinating.”

I don’t think Ophelia is telling the truth here. I doubt it matters.

15

dave heasman 01.14.05 at 11:57 am

Ophelia opines : –
“Where’s the site that hands out the Brass Cross awards for the best blogs by Christians? Along with awards for blogs that engage respectfully (which I suppose means uncritically?) with Christianity?”

Assuming you’re serious, it’s surprising you’ve not come across this : –

http://slacktivist.typepad.com/slacktivist/

or this : –

http://www.livejournal.com/users/bellatrys/

and maybe this is still going: –

http://blogs.salon.com/0001772/

They’re not going for awards, probably because there are a host of Christian blogs and in the US they can sort out their own publicity. Muslim ones, in general, can’t and don’t. The blogosphere isn’t permeated with Muslim imagery, concepts and culture, so there’s a move to give a little publicity to Muslim blogs. For a militant atheist of course this is a bad thing, anything that even mentions religion must be denied the oxygen of publicity (poor old Fafnir).

“I am so keen to explore the diversity of the Christian blogosphere. What could possibly be more fascinating.”

I don’t think Ophelia is telling the truth here. I doubt it matters.

16

Joe M. 01.14.05 at 3:17 pm

Ralph — I don’t go around asking about random people’s religion. But when the whole point of the discussion is that somebody is holding a bloggers’ contest for (a) Muslims and (b) non-Muslims, isn’t it rather to be expected that someone might say, “Gee, I don’t know, should this blogger in category (a) or (b)?” If someone was holding a contest for Christians, or Hindus, or whatever, it’s only logical that questions will arise as to where the contestants are to be classified. Good grief.

As for wondering “why their name is this and not that,” well, if your co-blogger Mr. Burke went by the Spanish name “Timoteo,” and it turned out that his real name had been “Timothy” at some point, wouldn’t it occur to you to wonder if there was some interesting story behind the name change? Maybe not — if you’re the most uncurious person on earth.

17

Giles 01.14.05 at 3:19 pm

Junius
Its not a secret but isnt it a bit wierd that a middle eastern expert got expelled from a middle eastern religion and doesnt know why?

18

SamChevre 01.14.05 at 3:26 pm

Ophelia—if you’re actually interested in the Christian blogosphere, here are some blogs to check out.

Southern Appeal (Catholic)
Eve Tushnet
The Evangelical Outpost
The Right Coast (Gail Heriot in particular)
Russell Arben Fox (Mormon)

19

Ralph Luker 01.14.05 at 4:05 pm

Joe, My colleagues and former colleagues at Cliopatria would assure you, I think, that I am extra-ordinarily curious. It’s just that some things are a lot more worth being curious about than others. Why Timothy Burke calls himself Tim isn’t one of them.

20

Joe M. 01.14.05 at 4:42 pm

Well, if you keep changing my hypothetical from an extremely unusual decision to a completely normal decision, it’s no wonder that you wouldn’t be curious. In other words, for a “Timothy” to go by the nickname “Tim” is utterly routine and normal. Hence not something to be curious about.

But my actual example was to ask what if “Timothy” switched to a different language and started going by “Timoteo”? You wouldn’t be curious? Or what if a “Peter” started saying his name was “Pyotr”? Or what if a “Paul” started using “Pavel”? You’re really saying that you wouldn’t wonder if there was some fascinating story behind the decision to reverse-Anglicize a name? Even if you wouldn’t be curious yourself, do you really think that it is justified to call it a “strange insinuation” for someone else to be mildly curious?

21

Giles 01.14.05 at 4:58 pm

Another thing I’m curious about is where and why bahai’s are obssessed with the middle east. David Kelly was a bahai and so I discover was John Cole. Is this relevant? Well I dont know.

22

Antoni Jaume 01.14.05 at 7:09 pm

Giles, the baha’i religion is from the middle east, where it was created in the XIX century, given this I think it is logical that it would attract mostly those Western people who learnt of it because of their interest in the Middle East.

DSW

23

Gary Farber 01.14.05 at 7:26 pm

While we’re busy snarking over these awards, and focusing pretty much entirely on the single non-Muslim category — clearly the most important aspect — I’ll note that when Chris writes: “…and for blogs by non-Muslims that engage respecfully with Islam. Juan Cole , Jonathan Edelstein and Scott Martens all get nominated in various categories,” that it turns out that there were actually 11 blogs nominated in the non-Muslim category, and CT actually blogrolls others besides those three; Chris even used to link to at least one.

But I do believe that Jonathan Edelstein might be at least as surprised as I am to have it implied, as Ophelia does, that either of us is “Christian”; perhaps even as surprised as I am at the notion that “respectful” in the slightest way implies “uncritical.” That last simply astounds me; is the fact that courtesy and intellectual honesty are separable concepts truly little known?

It’s equally unclear to me why, as I take Ophelia’s snark to imply — and I welcome correction regarding any misreading on my part — I should be either uncurious about, uninterested in, or automatically disrespectful of, a writer expressing views Christian, Muslim, Jewish, atheistic, Hindu, animist, Bahai’, Sikh, Shinto, Trekkie, Mac-ist, or chocolate-worshipper. Or writing about topics under those categories.

But I’m even more surprised if an intelligent commentator didn’t take note of the different position a minority culture has in a majority culture, and found taking some little interest in the lesser-known culture worthy of ridicule.

Plus, I hear Islam has been in the news from time to time of late; obviously, it’s best to know as little as possible about it, or to only read attacks on it from outsiders.

But that brings us back to the notion that to be intellectually honest, and maintain one’s ability to be critical, one must be discourteous and lacking in intellectual curiosity. Or something. I’m really not clear what Ophelia’s POV is, frankly, which is a surprise given the clarity I’ve seen her bring to a number of articles.

24

Giles 01.14.05 at 7:29 pm

Obviously Jaume, most religions are from the Middle East.

But the interest in Middle Eastern Politics amongst Bahai’s seems to me to be very high – I’m again thinking about Kelly as an example.

25

Giles 01.14.05 at 8:09 pm

“perhaps even as surprised as I am at the notion that “respectful” in the slightest way implies “uncritical.”

I think that was what surprised Cole about Bahi – looking at the letters he sent and got. He though respectful meant what you understand it to mean. IN fact it meant soemthing entirely different to the counsellors.

26

Chris Bertram 01.14.05 at 8:19 pm

Gary, I wasn’t about to list all the blogs in that category. But it was an oversight not to list yours, and I apologise — a product of blogging whilst in a hurry. I’m going to amend the post to include you.

27

Luc 01.15.05 at 12:52 am

After reading all of this I think Ophilia is more to the point than than I initially thought.

Once again, Ophelia, your a priori view of how the world must be is getting in the way of you seeing how it actually is.

Is little more than a funny suggestion that militant atheism is equal to a religion.

Anyway, for the Google impaired (“christian blog” award, first link gives the clue),

the Superblessed Christian Blog Award winners 2004

And this is the finest example of old style christian youth entertainment i’ve seen in a long while. “Porn again Christians” …

28

Giles 01.15.05 at 1:58 am

Indeed Luc, but where was the nomination for “most respectful non-christian blog”?

29

Luc 01.15.05 at 3:49 am

Indeed Luc, but where was the nomination for “most respectful non-christian blog”?

Which was the original 64k$ question. I don’t know the answer to that. But if there were such a category, a simple guess regarding religion would qualify all four mentioned above. Is that typical or what?

30

Ophelia Benson 01.15.05 at 9:25 pm

Blimey. This comment thread is no doubt deceased, but I feel as if I ought to clear up a couple of things. Gary, yes, that is a misreading on your part. My point (or ‘snark’ if you will have it so) was certainly elliptical, but I wasn’t implying what you take me to have been implying.

“But I do believe that Jonathan Edelstein might be at least as surprised as I am to have it implied, as Ophelia does, that either of us is “Christian”;”

I didn’t (at least in intention) imply that at all.

“as surprised as I am at the notion that “respectful” in the slightest way implies “uncritical.””

As I pointed out in my reply to Chris’ reply to me – that was a question. Not an assertion, a question. That’s why I put a question mark after it – because it was a question. I wasn’t sure what the word meant in that context. I ventured a guess, but the guess was interrogative.

“That last simply astounds me; is the fact that courtesy and intellectual honesty are separable concepts truly little known?”

Well since I’m not sure what ‘respectful’ means in this context, I don’t know if it means simply ‘courtesy’ or something else. And ‘respectful’ does sometimes get used (I could point you to some discussions of this on B&W if you’re interested) to mean, well, cautious about criticising, to put it no more strongly than that.

“It’s equally unclear to me why, as I take Ophelia’s snark to imply – and I welcome correction regarding any misreading on my part – I should be either uncurious about, uninterested in, or automatically disrespectful of, a writer expressing views Christian, Muslim, Jewish, atheistic, Hindu” etc

No, that’s not what my ‘snark’ is meant to imply. My question was just a dog bites person type question.

“But I’m even more surprised if an intelligent commentator didn’t take note of the different position a minority culture has in a majority culture, and found taking some little interest in the lesser-known culture worthy of ridicule.”

Well that’s exactly what I was wondering, and the kind of answer I was hoping to elicit. Except not phrased exactly that way. Did you phrase it that way on purpose or have people simply lost sight of the distinction between religion and ‘culture’? The category was blogs by Muslims. Islam is a religion.

Now I’ll tell you exactly why I find ‘taking some little interest in the lesser-known culture worthy of ridicule’. Because that interest is not matched by some little interest in an even lesser-known – and far more minority, weak, vulnerable, under threat – ‘culture’ than that of Islam: the ‘culture’ of secularists from majority-Muslim countries who work for human rights and feminism and get roundly ignored while people fawn over catgories like ‘blogs by Muslims.’ That’s why. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, take a look at the articles section at B&W: you’ll find a good few articles by such people, who get way less attention (and, indeed, ‘respect’) than they ought to. That’s why.

“Plus, I hear Islam has been in the news from time to time of late; obviously, it’s best to know as little as possible about it, or to only read attacks on it from outsiders.”

Exactly. Which is why one would think criticisms (not ‘attacks’) from insiders would be of interest.

“But that brings us back to the notion that to be intellectually honest, and maintain one’s ability to be critical, one must be discourteous and lacking in intellectual curiosity. Or something.”

Nope.

“I’m really not clear what Ophelia’s POV is, frankly”

I hope I’ve managed to shed a little light on the subject. (And I do realize that, as I said, my comment was cryptic.)

31

David Salmanson 01.17.05 at 9:36 pm

It is pretty typical of Hispano families in the NM to legally name children in English but use Spanish names in everyday language. This is particularly true if the surname is not Hispano sounding. It was a way to get around de facto quotas in the days when Hispanos thought of themselves as “white” and Anglos thought of Hispanos as “Mexicans” and Mexicans as “Mexicans from Mexico.” Fpr further details see John Nieto Phillips’ PhD diss. No other Blood

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