Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Turkish Figure Skater

Watching the Olympic coverage tonight I was impressed that NBC started it coverage with a Turkish contestant in the female figure skating finals. This child had no chance of winning she entered the evening in 21rst place and yet NBC thought we should all watch her skate. She fell once and she pulled out of a couple of triple, double spin things. Yet her performance was inspiring.

Her parents gave up a very good life in Turkey to allow their daughter chase her dreams; they spent all their money and took menial hourly jobs in Canada just so their daughter could follow her dream. She competed 4 years ago but her parents could not afford to watch her in person so they watched their lovely daughter on TV. This year an anonymous donor provided her parents with tickets. They were really bad seats but there they were waving the Turkish flag and so proud of their daughter, the Olympic athlete. I am working under the assumption that her parents are Muslim.

I am not as religious as I used to be, I believe that there are many paths to G-D. Do I believe in G-D? Do I think G-D created humanity or did humanity create G-D? Let’s just say I have a few questions.

The Catholic and Baptists churches of my great grandparent led my parents to find a church that would not be so oppressive and not say no to everything. So my parents and their children jumped head first into the United Church of Christ. I am not sure there is another more affirming and accepting main stream religious denomination around.

My first reaction to the Turkish skater was what a great message she sends to the Islamic world. She is an example of the best of modernity. She is loved by her parents and encouraged to pursue her dreams. She is not forced to hide herself and allowed to achieve something. If there ever was a religion in need of a Martin Luther moment it is Islam. There appears to be a culture war within the faith. There is the Islam that we interact with every day and then there is the Islam that we observe every night on the evening news. Which will end up as the dominate strain depends on how much the west embraces its intellect and resources into it.

After all it was only a few hundred years ago my Catholic ancestors were burning the heretics at the stake in Europe and my Protestant ones were dunking them into wells in New England


  1. Donald, I can appreciate the fact that the forward thinking of these Muslim parents inspire you. What I'm wondering, though... is what could possibly have happened to your faith that you can't even write the word GOD, that you feel the need to place a hyphen in between the letters. Perhaps this introspect is one we can explore in person.

  2. Greetings, G-D is the way many Jews use for GOD, becuase GOD is so all powerful that you can not even say the name. It kind of just stuck with me and I am not Jewish. I kind view myself these days as Humanist with Christian leanings. Religion/Faith is just one of many topics I obsess over on a daily baisis and a topic I can't learn enough about. Oddly enough until I hit my college age years I was on track to become a minister. Then when G-D really called I either was not home or the answering machine did not pick up. I would love to discuss this further.

  3. Donald, Did not think you'd top your last post, but you just did with yet another inspirational story.

  4. Hi Donald,
    A very nice essay. Congratulations. I came across to your piece just by coincedence when I was googling on this skater, who comes from the same city where I am from. Besides, it is the same ice rink I learnt this sport before shifting to rollerblades. Agree with all your comments on the religion issue. Yet, What people don't understand when it comes to islam, which I dont believe in either, is the fact that every muslim is not the same. Just like europe, where everyone generalizes every immigrant from muslim countries w/o trying to understand the differences. They would not see muslim ladies without headscarves or muslim immigrants who do not pray but drink alcohol or muslim gays among them. Cause it is not them who fills up the sensational front pages of bestselling populist papers...there are more people needed who can act as a bridge between those two cultures but I am afraid there is not much of those. extremists in both societies continue doing their job and spreading hatred I am afraid.
    best regards...