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  The Ishmael Community: Questions and Answers

Questions and More Questions...

    Your request found 170 questions.
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  • The Question (ID Number 686): The premise of your graphic novel THE MAN WHO GREW YOUNG is that the forward flow of time in the universe has come to the end of its string and is "rewinding" itself like a yo-yo. Was it difficult to write a book in which all the action is running backwards?

  • The Question (ID Number 685): One of the surprising things about your "novels of ideas" is that they work so well just as novels. I've heard people describe them as page turners.

  • The Question (ID Number 683): How can people teach themselves to escape Mother Culture's story and start creating a new one?

  • The Question (ID Number 676): Reading up on theories about timelines for Matriarchal and Patriarchal societies on our planet I only ever seem to get as far back as 'pre-history' (meaning up to +/- 5000bc).I was curious to know if you have any information about the leavers and whether they lived in either Matriarchal or Patriarchal societies or both?

  • The Question (ID Number 670): I'm not quite clear about your stance on birth control. You say in The Story of B that you have no problem with birth control. But at the end of Ishmael, we live in the society we live in because we don't want to live at the mercy of the gods. However, birth control seems to me to be a matter of trying not to live at the hands of the gods. It seems as though it is a contradiction to say that we create problems by refusing to live at the hands of the gods, but at th same time saying you have no problem with people using birth control. I guess I would most like you to clear up your stance on your feelings toward the use of artificial contraception.

  • The Question (ID Number 668): Why did you single out the Roman Catholic church as B's antagonist in The Story of B?

  • The Question (ID Number 662): I am writing to follow up from a response I received to question ID#657.I think I need to clarify my question, as I was labeled a "poser" in your response. I am struggling with deciding whether or not to have children with my devout Catholic husband. If we do have children, he will find it as important to teach them the lessons of the bible as I will to teach them everything I know and believe through reading Ishmael, My Ishmael, The Story of B, Providence, etc.I'm sure we will not be the first couple to raise children with opposing belief systems. I agree that the ideals of the Church are in direct conflict with animism, but does a child not take in everything he/she learns from parents, friends and the rest of their environment and form his/her own judgments and beliefs? For example, my parents are polar opposites in their personalities, but I've never felt I had to BECOME one or the other. Along the same lines, someone raised by two devout Catholics is not guaranteed to become one themself.I have been "spreading the word" of Ishamel (as well as actually sending the book to many people). I do this because I feel it is important to the future of the earth and all creatures residing on it, including humans. I know two things for certain: a) that I will be spreading the word to my children, and b) that at the same time my husband will be taking them to church and teaching them about Jesus. Surely you must be aware of others who are in relationships like mine and have been successful. If you do not, I can understand why you would have no guidance to offer me.

  • The Question (ID Number 661): I recognize the fact that cultures are subject to a form of natural selection, in which unlivable practices are abandoned or changed by the members of a tribal society over time. However, what I do not understand is how one can look at a tribal society today and make assumptions about their past. Members of a tribe may say, "We have done this since the beginning of time," but the oral tradition changes along with everything else, and it isn't really reliable. In several answered questions, you have replied to a person's inquiry about an unpleasant cultural practice with a response along the lines of, that culture has been proceeding for thousands of years, anything unsustainable to its people would have been eliminated by now. But how can we know whether they will be eliminated in the future? If a practice is eliminated in a tribe, does that render our previous criticism of it "correct" from an evolutionary perspective? Destructive practices must exist for a short time before they are abandoned, so how can we tell if the last few hundred years out of thousands in a tribe's history aren't the most internally destructive, or a radical change from what enabled them to survive before?

  • The Question (ID Number 659): I did some research on a group of people that lived in a remote mountain valley in Switzerland. They called their valley "Loetschental" and have been living there sufficiently and sustainably for about 1250 years, and they still do. This society performs a special form of agriculture that is not totalitarian, yet has been a sustainable kind. And this small civilization runs very differently from ours. They raise three livestock animals--cattle, goats, and sheep (for wool, meat, and dairy) on the same pasture, hence no need to change the contents of the diversity of the pasture. Also, pasture is only around during the growing season--about 4 months a year--so hay grown there is used to feet the cattle the rest of the year, and food is stored for winter feeding. They plant salad greens in gardens together, NOT on monocropped fields, and although they have single rye fields, they rotate their crops. Since the valley is about 7000 feet above sea level, they have a very short growing season. Where they plant rye and hay one year they do not plant rye the next year. They do not attempt to invade and conquer any neighboring villages, and do not try to make more of anything. They have a complete sense of limit. They grow the same amount every year--the amount needed to sustain their fixed population of 2,000--and no more. Also, the wooden buildings in their valley never are torn down, the ones that exist now have existed since the dawn of the settlement. They also use no pesticides or hormones to raise productivity, they let Nature take its course to feed their livestock and they feed whatever the pastures offer. They may water their crops, but they do not try to control Nature--hence they "live in the hands of the gods" to a certain extent. They have made no attempts to hunt down the competitors or wage war on their animals. They may try to defend their livestock if attacked, but do not try to kill off the attackers. They have no health problems or diseases of civilization, no depression, and have no hierarchal systems. Everyone shares the good times and the bad times together in the village. Yet they have all the good artifices of civilization--a culture, recorded history, an annual holiday celebration, and the ability to communicate ideas to the whole village. Would you call this a Leaver society?

  • The Question (ID Number 654): In one of the lectures in The Story of B, I think it may be the first of Shirin's, you brought up the point about female circumcision in Islamicised tribal cultures. I remember the question from the audience jolting me when I first read it, and B's reaction to it more so ('abominable practice' seemed somewhat out of character), and was wondering if there was a particular reason for this, why it wasn't left until after the lecture, or if you were prompted to put it in somehow.

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