What I was writing when she called with the good news:
A recent application for graduate-level Arabic studies included an appropriately perplexing essay question: “What is the most serious problem in Islam today?” One may consider to what degree the questioner is posing a sort of political litmus test. Is a prospective Western applicant aligned to the sense of cultural self-defense, adhering to the notion that a global growth of Islam represents a vital threat to Western values? Or does our applicant take the opposite position, that the most pressing threat to Islamic mores comes from those outside the religion? But this entire line of analysis is basically flawed.
So I was already in the mindset of forging ahead, brave new frontiers, that sort of thing. While I don't think Islam itself has any genuine problems, I do think it could benefit from some defense. Why does the West take the bloody-minded approach that it does? Why does it cling to ancient stereotypes to justify foolish hatreds? Having demonstrated such capacity for intrinsic sweeping change, even to the point of solipsistic relativism, why is this so difficult? But anyway.
I will arrive in Istanbul on June 17th! We fixed this date tonight, I received the confirmation email and all. She actually is helpful! Or at least did what she promised. She knows how much this means to me. I wonder how to proceed from here. Istanbul, Bursa, then what? Syria? Lebanon? Egypt? Morocco? Hmmm... None of you ever comment on this, I doubt few of you actually read this drivel anyway, so asking my friends for their input is surely beside the point. But I love you guys anyway.