Category Archives: Personal
Tomorrow marks the beginning of my final year as a teaching assistant in the Department of Sociology at Trinity College, Dublin. The experience of teaching some of the best and brightest students in Ireland and Europe (and actually the world) has been invaluable to my development as a student, thinker and teacher.
An older Irish man begged me today to go into the Priesthood. He is afraid that the faith is going to sh*t, which it very well might be. There are hardly any young men who attend Mass regularly. Where are the faithful?, he wondered. The Church is in dire straits. It’s no secret. I told that man I would enter the Priesthood to try and save the day, if only if it wasn’t for the only lady, Miss Melony Bethala.
This is a documentary about my dad, Christopher Michael Considine, who was born on April Fool’s Day in 1948. He grew up in the country of New Hampshire and Vermont. My dad served as Captain during the Vietnam War, a conflict which some of the greatest figures of his generation avoided. Years after serving in the U.S. Army, my dad met my mom and they lived pretty much happily ever after. When his children were born, he groomed them to be great athletes, and great athletes they became. When my dad was older, he had to see his children off into the real world. But now, things have come full circle.
Tags: April Fool's Day, Chris Considine, Christopher Considine, Dads, Documentary, Family, Father, Father's Day, Film, Grandfather, Happy Father's Day, Husband, Love, Needham Basketball Association, New Hampshire, United States Army, Vermont, Vietnam War
For those who know me and the kind of work that I do, you will know by now of my mentor and intellectual guide Professor Akbar Ahmed. Here is a nice biography of Professor Ahmed, who the renowned American historian Professor Stanley Wolpert called “the greatest scholar of Islam in America and the world… nobody else stands so high… he is the Dara Shikoh of modern Islamic leaders” (Pakistan Link, 30 December issue, 2011). Source: Public Intelligence Blog
- Let me know if you’ve found knowledge (craigconsidinetcd.wordpress.com)
- Watch a calm and authoritative voice outline the basic principles of Islam (craigconsidinetcd.wordpress.com)
- Overcoming fear after the Boston bombings (craigconsidinetcd.wordpress.com)
- Bridging the gap in Muslim-Western relations (craigconsidinetcd.wordpress.com)
MAKE WAY FOR THE LITTLE MAN!!!! My nephew, Colton Christopher Close. He is a champ already as you can see. He takes after his uncle for being a big baby boy! I was nearly 11 lbs, the Little Colt Man was a whopping 10 lbs! We are truly blessed!
I only get a chance to come back home to Boston a few times a year. When I returned last December I came home to the news of the terrible tragedy known as the Newtown Massacre in Connecticut, where 20 little children and 6 adults died at the hands of a crazed gunmen. Unfortunately my return on April 15th – Marathon Monday in Boston – was even more traumatic.
I feel that my home is a very sick place at the moment. The current events are all about gun control, random shootings, other violence, and terrorists. People are living in a constant state of fear and paranoia.
Over the last few days many people have said to me “You just aren’t safe anywhere anymore.” That’s a massive change in thinking since I was a kid.
The Marathon bombing was surreal. Terrorism is different when it hits the place you were born and raised. It was the first time I was present in a “state of terror.” We were told not to even leave our house.
Thank God the drama is over now. Everyone is so relieved. Bostonians can now move on and begin the healing process, which certainly won’t be easy. There’s a danger of rising nativism and anti-Muslim sentiment in the city. The challenge now is to make sure that pluralism is reinforced. We can’t fight extremism with extremism.
To be honest there’s something very bizarre with how Bostonians react to terrorism and the killing of civilians. It seems that they only react with shock and grief when the victims are “one of their own.”
Why don’t Bostonians react with the same emotion when little Pakistani children die at the hands of American drones? Is American life more sacred than Pakistani life? Is this not hypocrisy? The different reactions are weird to me. A child’s life is sacred no matter where the child might live.
On a brighter note the collective response of Bostonians is truly remarkable. I don’t think I’ve ever lived in a place or city that has such a strong collective bond.
There’s something definitely different with Bostonians. It’s like they are all part of a big tribe. There’s a different code of honor here. Bostonians have a different edge, a different psyche. An attack on one is really an attack on all.
The determination and perseverance of the city is amazing. Perhaps it’s rooted in the rough conditions of the early Boston settlements, which date back to the 17th century. That was certainly a difficult period to live. Maybe their traits have carried over through the generations.
It’s been a very challenging few days in Boston. So many emotions have run through me, some good and some not so good. I’m disappointed with the strange contradiction present in Boston about how and when Bostonians show support for victims of awful tragedies.
In another way the response to the Marathon bombings has reinvigorated my Bostonian identity. I’m happy to be a part of a city that has such a strong sense of solidarity. This is a gritty city that could never back down from adversity.
This is something to really savor.
Tags: Boston, Boston Marathon, Boston news, Bostonian, Bostonian identity, Bostonians, Civilians, Extremism, Muslims in Boston, Reaction to Marathon bombing, Reflecting on Marathon bombings, Solidarity, Terrorism, Tribes, United States, Violence
I lived in the Liberties, a working class part of Dublin, for over two years and used to see the man pictured above on a daily basis. I remember how he would walk up and down the isles of John’s Lane Church on Thomas Street while grunting something under his breath. In the middle of mass, he would sometimes walk up close to the alter and yell something explicit. He would wave his hands frantically and then just sit down. People generally ignored him and didn’t go near him.
The man pictured above was always a very curious case to me. He used to just stare at me with an inquisitive look while I entered John’s Lane to pray. He was always in the church and never said anything mean or tried to harm me. I always felt that he wanted to talk to me.
When he walked, he did so sluggishly and with a slight limp that veered down and to the right. He always wore the same rough navy blue jacket, which reached down to his ankles. His bright white messy hair was always flailing and his beard looked like something straight out of the Old Testament. He also always carried a Dunnes shopping bag in one hand and a stack of newspapers in the other.
I just stumbled across a beautiful article about his life on the Irish Times. I want to share with you parts of it in a tribute to this unforgettable man.
I learned in the article that Ned Delahunty used to sleep in a sheltered alcove on Oliver Bond Street. This surprised me as I never thought Ned was without home. He never begged or asked for anything. While his clothes weren’t great, they also weren’t all that bad either. The fact that Ned was homeless for over twenty years only adds to his legend.
The children of the Liberties called him “Moses” or “Santy,” after Santa Clause because nobody knew his real name. He was intensely private and refused support from others, as noted by the Times: “He kept people at a distance. Anyone who offered help or approached him out of the blue – care workers, priests or locals – could either get a gruff ‘thank you’, or else get drowned in a hail of expletives.”
Ned’s character becomes even more mysterious when we consider the days following his recent passing at the age of 83. His funeral was delayed for nearly two months in order to allow time for family members to come forward, though the gardai were unable to find anyone.
Just yesterday, however, 150 people showed up to John’s Lane to say their goodbyes.
Jane Forde, a local nun who stayed with Ned during his last days at St. James hospital, felt that his life showed a different and perhaps surprising side to many of Irish society: “You know, people say the country is banjaxed and that we’re a less caring society,” she noted, “but the care and offers of support he got from people shows another side to society. He taught us about the need for compassion and the importance of reaching out to people in need.” The Times adds that “[p]eople who helped him tended to offer support in subtle ways: outreach workers from various charities often left food or blankets outside his doorway; at the charity shop where he bought clothes, they would put aside items they felt he might want or need; others might leave money under his blanket if he was asleep.”
For Teresa Hogan, another local of the Liberties, Ned always seemed “well-educated or well brought up. He was so clean and so independent. He would dress neatly and tidy up after himself. I don’t know, there was just something about him. And his skin – his skin was beautiful.”
During his last days at St. James hospital, where he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Ned Delahunty finally spoke with Jane Forde. He said to her: “you’re the woman who gave me the walking stick.”
In his final moments, as noted in the Times, Ned took a turn for the worse. “I held his hand – and he didn’t push me away,” said Forde. “At one point, I think he asked me, ‘Do you think I’m going to die’ . . .”
Forde told the Times that she felt “privileged to be able to sit and hold his hand each night, even though he had kept many of us at a distance for so long.”
Another local of the Liberties, Julie Howley, puts Ned’s life and passing into perspective: “I feel that his one story throws up the real challenge of our time,” she says. “As a society we share a responsibility to challenge the systemic issues that stack the odds against certain people and lead to them living, and sometimes dying, in appalling conditions.” Howley concludes that “it is also our job to enable the individual’s story to be heard so that they won’t be just a statistic but a real and full human being.
I felt some strong emotions when reading about Ned’s life. I felt a great deal of sadness, but also a large amount of happiness and relief. In one way, Ned’s life shows how low society can be in the sense that an old man can be left alone to the streets. Yet perhaps Ned lived the life he wanted to live. Maybe he was just ferociously independent and wanted to be left alone. If that’s the case, more power to the man for showing extreme courage and strength.
Ned’s story isn’t necessarily a sad one. The fact that people cared for him in his twenty years on the streets is a clear sign that compassion and generosity still exists in our increasingly dehumanizing society.
Rest in Peace to Ned Delahunty, the unforgettable man I used to see on Thomas Street.
I’m back to instructing tutorials for the course “Introduction to Sociology” at the freshers level. I’ve instructed these tutorials in 2010 and 2011, so it’s fairly familiar material. The blog I had created for the students seemed to be a big hit, so I think I’ll continue with it. Maybe I’ll use Twitter a bit more this year.
I hope to get One Film 9/11 going again. There’s a good chance that we’ll be screening “Journey into America” at the House of Lords, Cambridge University and Oxford University. There may also be a few more screenings around Europe.
I’ll also be continuing on with my interviews and fieldwork for my Ph.D. I’ve nearly finished with the semi-structured interviews and focus groups here in Dublin. There are a few events which I’ll be participating in, so I’m excited for that.
Mel and I are likely to take a few trips around Ireland. I want to head to Lahinch and chill around the Cliffs of Moher. We shall see. Neither one of us have been to Connemara, so maybe we’ll go there.
I’m sure there will be curveballs along the way. Expect the unexpected.
The response to my latest article was one of general disgust and outrage.
One commentator on the website of Fox Nation, which also published the article, said that he “would beat this Craig guy until the police locked me up for a long time.” Another commentator on Fox Nation said that I must have “found some hallucinating mushrooms in the back of the cave of hell.”
One traveling agent wrote an article for the Washington Times in which he suggested that I was something like an “alien.” Commentators on the Huffington Post said, among many things, that I was guilty of treason and that I should be stripped of my American citizenship for placing Muhammad and Washington on the same pedestal.
The anti-Islam blogger, Pamela Geller, said that the article was “to vomit for” and that I was basically an “asshat of the highest degree.” In the comment section of her post, Geller’s fans added that I was “disgusting” and a “white apologist for Islam.” Another of Geller’s fans even said that my “ignorance” was “probably costing lives.”
The blogger, Robert Spencer, who is an ally of Geller’s, also posted the article on his blog. His fans said that I was “dangerous” and “no mere ingenue in the realm of DhimmIslamopologist spin.” One of Spencer’s fans even stated: “Craig Considine is evil.”
I should add that there were definitely positive responses amidst this firestorm. The article definitely caused a stink in the blogosphere. It hit a nerve, possibly resulting in many aneurysms.
My next article will explore the relationship between Washington and Islam.
There’s this drive within me. I think it’s in my soul. It’s always been with me. I didn’t create it, though I certainly create from it. It was given to me, but I don’t know when or by whom. This drive is a mystery, though I’m certain that it pushes me forward and never backward. Because of this drive I don’t ever pause for a second to think about failing. I don’t get caught up in the words of others and I would certainly never let anyone – or any event – discourage me. This drive makes me feel that I’ve this innate ability to do anything. This drives makes me feel like I was put on Earth for a reason, though the reason isn’t entirely clear just yet. If you’ve this drive, you may get caught up in your own hype – your ego – but the wise among us focus not on boosting our self, but the journey itself and everything that comes with it. It’s a strange thing – this drive – but you would be wise to cherish it, harness it, and most importantly, embrace it.
Ah, the life of a writer. You design your piece this way and that. You manage to find a framework which you think can work. You plow through the keyboard and think what you have is great, only to have someone else read it and realize that it’s actually crap. So you work through your message again in your brain. What am I trying to say? How do I say it? Who is my audience? The days go by. You drink 100 cups of coffee. You find different places to write as you think a change of scenery can help loosen your brain. But still, there seems to be no answers to your questions. It’s like the Berlin Wall is there to stop you from making progress. And so you ponder and ponder. And ponder. You go for a walk. You sit and contemplate. You stare out the window. You have moments of break-through, but also moments where you just want to pack it in and say ‘screw it… I’m finished’. And yet through all of this, something magical happens. I don’t know how it happens, or why it happens, but it does. POW! That little, but powerful light goes off in your brain. You have figured it out. You don’t know what ‘it’ is, but you have managed to find out what to say about it. Your brain is no longer cluttered and foggy. You start writing again and the words flow perfectly. Your piece is structured and your message is clear. Your entire world is now in harmony. Frowns turn to smiles. Anxiety turns to calm. This is the life of a writer.
The ancient sages at Delphi always stated to their visitors: ‘know thyself’. No doubt these are wise words, but should we take it further, we could also ‘love thyself’ explicitly so that we can love others. If you don’t love yourself, you won’t have that deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it. However, if you become friends with yourself, which is certainly no easy feat, then you can find that there is no obstacle to opening your heart and your mind to others. To have compassion and to practice it outwardly is the key to your happiness as well as to the happiness of those around you.
As many of you may have read in a recent post, Journey into America and the One Film 9/11 interfaith initiative were both warmly received at the U.S. Embassy in London. People of all walks of life approached me after the screening/discussion and shared with me their thoughts as well as how inspired they were with its messages. Some of the warmest remarks came from Ambassador Stephenson, who said that Journey into America proves that ‘where there is greater understanding there is not only tolerance but – even more important – there is hope’.
I’m back in Dublin now and catching up with the contacts that I made in London. Several media outlets are interested in working with me to both screen Journey into America as well as promote One Film 9/11. I’m also writing an article for The Nation (Pakistan) on the U.S. Embassy event; I’ll be publishing it probably in the next week. My time here in Dublin is short-lived as we have to jump back on a quick flight to London on December 12th for a Journey into America screening at SOAS. I’ll be sitting on the panel and taking questions from members of the audience. I hope to see you there if you’re in London.
Thanks for tuning in. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments about either Journey into America or the One Film 9/11 interfaith initiative.
I’m about to head out the door to Portman Square for a breakfast meeting with Ambassador Ahmed. Before I do so I want to share with you a few highlights of the trip so far. I’ll post something with more details in the near future.
The Journey into America screening at the U.S. Embassy went very well. I spoke to a distinguished audience about my relationship with Ambassador Ahmed and was even mobbed afterwards by folks of all sorts of backgrounds who are interested in promoting One Film 9/11. I received about 20 business cards; I also ran out of my own!
In the House of Lords, Ambassador Ahmed’s speech on the tribal areas of Pakistan was both interesting and highly informative. Members of the audience included Knights, Lords, Imams and top-level journalists. I was able to rub shoulders with them all. My favourite moment was with Lord/Sir Noon, who spoke very highly of Journey into America and even requested that I send him 10 copies so that he can distribute the message to his distinguished circle of contacts.
Walking through Westminster Palace was also a major highlight. Parts of the building data back to the times of William the Conqueror’s son, which makes the structure something like 1,000 years old. I even sat in the main Parliament chamber where MPs were discussing the Leveson Inquiry.
The breakfast with Ambassador Ahmed is the last major event of this trip. I fly back tomorrow evening, so that leaves me the rest of today to experience London. I think I’ll walk down Oxford Street and maybe head to Camden for dinner and drinks this evening.
- Personal: A quick and fairly significant trip to London (craigconsidinetcd.wordpress.com)
Here’s a quick glimpse into a pretty exciting trip over the next several days:
On Wednesday morning, I have to teach a tutorial on naturally occurring data. The tutorial will be packed because I’ve asked the students from the Thursday and Friday tutorials to attend the Wednesday session.
I’m heading on a 14:10 flight to London. I will arrive at Heathrow airport at 15:30, which leaves me roughly 90 minutes to make my way to the U.S. Embassy London, where Journey into America is screening from 17:00-20:00pm.
I think Dr Ahmed is asking me to say a few words at the event about the One Film 9/11 interfaith initiative. A few of us (the students who traveled with him during ‘Journey into America’) might be interviewed by a couple of media outlets after the event. That should be pretty fun if it happens.
On Thursday evening, Dr Ahmed is giving a talk in the House of Lords on the tribal areas of Pakistan and the drone war. He has invited me along, so I’m pretty excited to not only see him in action, but to also walk through the halls of English/British history.
I’m not entirely sure where the House of Lords is located, but I’m hoping it’s in the Parliament building (I’ve never been in).
Before the event, which begins at 18:00pm, I hope to spend some time in one of my favourite areas of London: Covent Garden. I haven’t booked my hostel yet, but I hope to stay somewhere close by.
I will leave London on Friday evening, which leaves me another full day to see the city I once lived. I’m thinking about maybe taking a trip back to Royal Holloway, University of London, where I lived in 2007 and 2008 while completing my masters degree in International Relations.
This trip to London is particularly memorable because I haven’t seen Dr Ahmed in over three years. The two events at the U.S. Embassy and House of Lords will also surely have a lasting impact. I’m very much looking forward to it.
I guess I should arrange a cab from Heathrow to the Embassy, find a hostel to stay in, and maybe book a flight back to Dublin for Friday evening.
I will blog about the experience on Saturday when I return to Dublin.
It has been challenging for me – a young Catholic working in interfaith dialogue – to watch the escalation of conflict between Muslim communities the world over and the United States. Observing this escalation as an American citizen has been equally difficult because religious tolerance is at the heart of my definition of American identity. For this reason I want to discuss the values of the Founding Fathers and their faith that America would always be a place that is open to people from all faiths.
- One Film 9/11 article promoting Founding Fathers and Islam in Common Ground News Service (onefilm911.wordpress.com)
- Watch Urdu Voice of America cover interfaith dialogue and screening at Washington National Cathedral (onefilm911.wordpress.com)
- Pope should focus on bringing peace than blessing motorcycles, Hindus assert (bikyamasr.com)
- Sacred Ground (Eboo Patel) — A Review (bobcornwall.com)
Tags: American, American identity, Catholic, Conflict, Craig Considine, Founding Fathers, Interfaith, Interfaith dialog, Interfaith Dialogue, Islam, Islamophobia, Journey into America, Muslim, Muslims and non-Muslims, One Film 9/11, Peace, Religion and Spirituality, Religious tolerance
I was walking past Christ’s Church in Dublin as I do nearly every day. As I was rounding the pub The Bull and the Castle, an energetic young woman came scurrying up to me and asked if she could take my picture for the Mens UK fashion blog Boots, Jeans and Leathers.
This is actually the second time I’ve appeared in a mens fashion blog/magazine. The earlier picture was in a magazine in 2008 at Royal Holloway. Maybe I’ll post that picture later.
The part of the Boots, Jeans and Leathers blog where the picture was posted is concerned with mens street style. Here is what they wrote:
We love boots jeans and leathers. And sometimes you put them together better than we ever could. Meet Craig. The first, of hopefully many stylish men photographed in the streets of your world and featured here not only as ideas for you own mens clothing inspiration but as a token of our respect to them for putting the effort in. Great choice of boots and rocking them excellently with the loose fit jeans. Not to mention autumn layering like a pro.
I’m heading to Logan Airport in a bit to fly back to Dublin. It’s hard to believe that I’m starting the third year of my Ph.D. Time flies when you’re busy and having fun.
The summer of 2012 was a great one. I spent it relaxing and chilling mostly with my family.
I can’t explain to you in words how awesome my Ma’s cooking was. So many delicious meals, from her baked macaroni (macaroni and cheese), to her homemade marinara sauce and meatballs, to raviolis and rigatonis. I’m glad we were able to make it to St. Anthony’s Feast in the North End.
My father and I had some great evenings at our favourite pub, The Biltmore. We had a few laughs, as we always do, on our porch during those hot and sunny New England nights. We discussed politics and had a few laughs at the many Romney gaffes.
My summer was also eventual because of the research I conducted. I managed to complete a bunch of semi-structured interviews and met some fascinating people along the way.
I also managed to run a ton over the summer. I worked my way up to running about 8 miles daily with little discomfort. My amazing sister (Ali) and I had a great run in South Boston where she told me some pretty important stuff. I’ll have to wait to tell at another time.
Of course I can’t forget my lovely Mel, who I spent Google chatting with throughout the days. I can’t wait to be back with her in The Liberties. She brings a kind of peace into my life found nowhere else.
It’s always a bit difficult leaving home. But life must go on. Over the years, I’ve learned that home, as an idea or concept, always travels. Just because I’m not physically at home doesn’t mean I’m not there, or that home isn’t with me. It’s all in my head. Home is how you think of it.
The time we have with our loved ones is precious. Take advantage of it. Time flies. Have no regrets.
Thank you for taking the time to come and visit me. Thank you for your kind note.
I really enjoyed meeting you. I have a sixth sense about people. Or perhaps a visceral feeling. Even enough I met you for a few minutes, I knew you would be an interesting person. And I was correct.
I would like to meet you again. Unfortunately I have misplaced the number you wrote on a card. It was your parents phone number.
I am leaving for California tomorrow. I will return on Friday (Sept 3rd). So please call me on Tuesday Sept 4.
I am very interested in visiting the sanctuary or park in Newton you talked about. In a metropolitan area flooded with noise and human pollution finding an oasis of tranquility is a true blessing.
Hope I hear from you soon.
From a world renowned doctor and one of the most enlightening human beings in the world. I swear.
I was reading too much with Nag Champa incents
in Na Saoirsí, December 2011.
The small room is fish-bowled and there is just enough light in.
The wallpapers are bright orange
with fluffy brush painting.
To my followers,
Bored with the previous layout, I felt it was time for a change. If you wonder where some of my pages have gone, they are now in About me.
I suppose there is nothing wrong with change as long as the change is for the better.
‘The unexamined life is not worth living’ – Socrates
‘The intelligent people are the ones so intelligent that they don’t even need or want to look “intelligent” anymore’ – Criss Jami
‘Don’t gain the world and lose your soul, for wisdom is better than silver or gold’.
‘Only the madman is absolutely sure’. – Robert Anton Wilson
‘Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned’. – Buddaghosa
Source: Daily Zen
We can gain a sense of young Benjamin Franklin’s thoughts on religion in A Witch Trial at Mount Holly, which raised the concern of his Puritan parents that he held ‘erroneous’ religious opinions. Franklin was not himself an emphatically religious man; while he believed in God, he did not subscribe to one particular creed. What we do know about Franklin’s personal beliefs is that he frowned upon religious orthodoxy, writing to his mother, in citing Matthew 26, that ‘I think vital religion has always suffered when orthodoxy is more regarded than virtue’. To escape the clutch of his parents and Puritanism, the young Franklin ran away to Philadelphia, a city more diverse in its religious makeup (with Quakers, Jews and Christian sects). It was here in Philadelphia where Franklin famously raised money to build a new ‘religious hall’ that would be ‘expressly for the use of any preacher of any religious persuasion who might desire to say something’. And while colonial Philadelphia had few Muslims, Franklin also suggested that ‘Even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at his service’. Franklin’s virtue was on display when in 1788, he donated money to each religious group in Philadelphia, including a sum for a new synagogue of the Mikveh Israel Jewish community. Later in 1790, Franklin was carried to his resting place by clergymen from every single religious group in Philadelphia. How is that for respect? We as Americans would be wise to heed his message.
Tags: American culture, Arts, Benjamin Franklin, Craig Considine, Franklin, God, History, Interfaith, Islam, Jews, Judaism, Matthew 26, Mikveh Israel, Muslims, Opinion, Personal, Philadelphia, Pluralism, Quakers, Religion, Spirituality, Tolerance, United States
I wrote this speech (with a few typos) before launching Journey into America, which was screened at the Washington D.C. Convention Center. I ended up not even reading it. I was under the impression that we (researchers) were going to be asked to say a few words in front of the audience. This was never planned so I was never given the opportunity. I came across it for the first time since July 2009 while sifting through a stack of papers and figured I would archive it here. The trailer of Journey into America is below the speech.
Thank you all for coming to the show tonight! What a perfect setting, day and time for a film about this great country. Happy 4th of July to everyone! I think our forefathers would be proud of us all on this special evening.
This has been a remarkable journey FOR ME for 2 reasons. Up until one month ago, I was homeless, living without a door and a bed, and struggling to make my way on limited funds. I joined the Journey on short notice from London and had no time to organize a roof over my head. Luckily, I raised money through Dar al Islam, a non-profit organization that was fortunate enough to give me a grant to participate in this once in a lifetime opportunity. On this journey, I was literally a nomad, sleeping from couch to couch, from bed to bed, just to get by. It was a struggle, but I made it, and I’m forever indebted to my close friends, Robbie and Daren, both of who are here today, and both of who opened their homes with love and hospitality, just as so many Muslims did for us on our great journey.
I wouldn’t even be here today if it wasn’t for my parents, Debbie and Chris, and my gorgeous sister, Alison. Without my family, I’m nothing. Thank you for everything.
Thank you Dr. Ahmed for being the best tutor on the face of this earth. You changed me life in more ways than you can ever imagine. Thank you to the rest of the team as well. None of us would be here without each other. We have a great team and I’m forever indebted.
I participated in this journey not for fame, for exposure, or for notoriety. I did it because I care for the health of this great country and the preservation of the Founding Fathers’ pluralistic vision. We can’t be strong or united if we don’t understand one another. We must care for one another, go into each others’ homes and places of worship, and treated each other as we would like to be treated ourselves.
Hopefully this film stands the test of time. And hopefully, hopefully, its message will circle the world so people realize how great of a country the United States is.
Salam, Shalom and Peace to you all.
*LOVE, COMPASSION, TOLERANCE
NOTE: Special thanks to my lady, Melony Bethala, for editing. And thanks to everyone else who has helped make me.
I can only answer the question ‘What am I to do?’ if I can answer the prior question
‘Of what story or stories do I find myself a part?’
‘What am I?’
I am a thinker, teacher, poet, photographer, and film-maker.
I am passionate about seeking knowledge.
Here are some of my stories…
I am a young scholar, trained by the great anthropologist Akbar Ahmed, who taught me that the ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyr.
I am a journeyer, having been around the country with Ahmed to study what it means to be American through the eyes of Muslims. We made a documentary feature film Journey into America, which I directed, and book Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam after visiting 100 cities, 75 mosques, and the homes, places of worship, and schools of Americans from all walks of life.
I am ambitious, and raised $15,000 by myself to make this once-in-a-lifetime experience happen.
I am clever with the camera, having my short documentaries during Journey into America aired on BBC World News America, CNN iReport, and local ABC outlets around the United States.
I am sharp and perceptive, and you can see for yourself in an interview with Riz Khan on Al Jazeera English.
I am a writer, having published numerous articles around the world on politics, religion, and sociology.
I am a sociologist in training, having embarked on my Ph.D. in 2010. I am exploring the experiences of belonging among young Pakistani men in Dublin and Boston. I want to understand how and why they feel as they do.
I am also a teacher at Trinity College Dublin, having instructed two years of the course Introduction to Sociology at the first year college level.
I am formerly a postgraduate coordinator in sociology and Editor of the Trinity College Dublin: Journal of Postgraduate Research, Volume XI.
I am, more than any of this, a work in progress.
I believe in God.
I have visions and goals which, God willing, I will accomplish.
I hope to make this world a better place for me living in it.
I strive to break down barriers.
If I can succeed in this, I will pass on a happy man.
I am not from east or west
not up from the ground
or out of the ocean
my place is placeless
a trace of the traceless
I belong to the beloved.
Last night I watched the movie Alive. Have you seen it? It’s about a Rugby team that’s stranded for something like 70 days in the Andes mountains after a plane crash. As you can imagine, the team faces unfathomable hardship and even has to resort to cannibalism. It’s also, unbelievably, a true story.
Something came over me while watching Alive. It made me think about the things that I’ve gone through and the little things I deal with daily. Were/are they as difficult as I perceive them to be?
The things I’ve experienced, really, don’t measure up to what the Rugby players have to wither through in Alive. The movie helps me think about perspective. It challenges me to work harder and persevere even when times seem really tough.
I’m writing this as I’m about to embark on a long, perhaps 7 mile run. I’ll be thinking about Alive in about the 5th mile when my head starts complaining. I’ll keep on moving. It’s not that bad. Alive can attest to that!
I booked a flight back home to Boston in March 2012. My sister, the only person who knew of the booking, and I devised a clever plan to surprise my parents. I put together this short clip to ‘Lovely Allen’ by Holy Fuck. Watch the video and tell me whether you think Holy Fuck is fitting?
A few pictures from a great homemade lasagna dinner. Check the video as well.
Mel and I stopped by Robbie Fry’s house the other day. Robbie and Mel decided to indulge in their fascination with cameras, exploring different makes from past generations, and sharing their thoughts on the intricacies of various models. It was nice to sit their and watch them go back and forth. Clearly, both are passionate about their hobby (for Robbie, indeed his profession).
This particular pick was shot unexpectedly. Robbie wasn’t even trying really and just shot quickly and randomly. He just wanted to show Mel how one piece of equipment worked. Think it came out nice though.
A grand evening! Melony organized the entire event as she’s Entertainment Officer for the TCD Graduate Students Union. The evening, which was held at the Gresham Hotel over on O’Connell Street, began with a champagne reception, with a violinist playing in the background, and moved to a great three coarse meal. Here are the only two pictures that really came out. For some reason, I was having trouble with my camera. Well done to Mel!
By Chad Howse from www.chadhowsefitness.com
1. They didn’t use excuses.
2. It wasn’t just about them.
3. Early morning and late nights.
4. The greatest commodity.
6. Wavering, yet unbreakable faith.
7. A reason.
8. They persevered when others didn’t.
9. Great people relentlessly studied their craft.
Read WHY at addicted2success.com
I had been under the knife to remove a sebaceous cyst that I have had since I was a little kid. The cyst was bigger than a golf ball and located right at the very top of my sternum and at the bottom of my throat. It had never hurt, but it was never easy to look at. I had just wanted it to be gone for good.
And so it was.
After the surgery, I had asked one of the nurses to send a doctor down to explain to me how the procedure went. A younger doctor, with bright orange hair, had come to tell me that everything went fine. They removed the cyst in-tact. There were no complications.
‘Great’, I had thought.
Just how I had imagined it would go.
Fast forward a few hours. I was at home, all alone, and had just woken up from a nap. I was awake, but the problem was, I could not lift myself up from the bed. The wound was incredibly soar. Even my chest and neck were in severe pain. Another problem: my phone was on the other side of the room, so I could not easily get in touch with someone for help.
Impending doom is not a good feeling.
Nonetheless, I had decided to play it out a bit. I had figured that maybe the pain and swelling was normal and both would go away soon. As you could expect, that never happened. Indeed, both got worse.
While in bed, I had felt the lump over the wound growing bigger and bigger. When it creeped up over my throat, I knew something was wrong. When breathing became problematic, I knew something had to be done. Breathing, after all, is fundamental. Without it, we cannot exist.
I had mustered up the strength to raise myself out of bed, though when I was up it felt like someone had shot me directly in the upper chest with a shotgun. I went over to the mirror and saw that the wound had opened and was bleeding. I also could not help but notice the massive lump, which went from the top of the sternum to mid-throat. It was not a pretty sight. It had looked like someone inserted a rugby ball underneath my skin.
I had thrown on some clothes and left my house, covering my wound from the sight of pedestrians. My destination was a cab. When I had reached it, I could tell the cab driver was very uneasy. He drove quickly up to the ER at St. James Hospital. He did not charge me a thing for the ride. He wished me luck, which I had felt I needed.
I had entered the ER and went straight for the main counter. The time on the wall had said that the wait to be seen was two hours. So I had to tell the lady at the counter that I clearly could not wait. She agreed. Within two minutes, I was in through to the main ER.
The nurse who first received me, Naimh, was clearly worried. I could see it in her eyes. Not a very comfortable feeling when the head nurse in the ER is a bit shaken by you, the patient. So she sat me down and took my blood pressure. It happened to read 200, about 140 spots higher than it should have been. Niamh said I had no colour and looked like a ghost. She immediately called the doctors who saw me earlier. They had to figure out what could be done to aleve me of these conditions.
Another nurse, who could not have been any older than 22, took me into the ER room to be seated. She was in no rush and that really bugged me. She had gone over to a bed and could not figure out how to lower so I could get on. She was meandering around, asking people questions on whether they could help her.
We were not off to a great start.
Once I was down, one of the surgeons who saw my first surgery had come through and basically said that some blood vessels near my wound had never been shut and that blood clots had formed.
‘Blood clots…’, I thought, ‘…great’.
The doctor, whose name was Catherine, said she had to re-open the wound.
Quick flash back – 5 years. I had been laying on an ER bed in Washington, DC. I had just been struck in the face with a pint glass at a local club. I had extensive facial damage, as you could imagine. When they finally put 75 stitches in me to close the wound, a doctor came in and told me that they had to re-open the wound and engage in a bit of re-structuring.
To this day, I remember that moment vividly. It was one of the worst things I had ever heard. The first operation was under local anesthesia, so I had witnessed it live. The same thing had been true for the second operation.
Now, I thought, here we go again with this incident. I have to go through another operation… awake?
Just my luck.
So, Catherine had opened my wound and started to push down on the massive lump that had swelled up.
It was one of the worst pains. She had pushed the lump down and down to let all the blood out. I could feel the blood pouring down the side of my neck and near my back. I felt myself getting weaker and weaker from the loss of blood. The doctors tossed the oxygen mask on me as I was having trouble breathing. Not a very pleasant sight.
Next, two doctors – one young lady from Belgium and another witty Irish chap – had come to take a look at the wound. Both had said that immediate work had to be done to close off some of the blood vessels, so they decided to put me under local anesthesia for a second surgery in about 8 hours.
I swear… the drugs they gave me did not work, or just were not strong enough. I could feel their hands inside and outside of the wound. I could feel them dig for things. I could feel the machine that zapped the blood vessels shut. It was like someone was shocking me very quickly. It did not hurt, but you could imagine, it wasn’t an easy feeling.
The doctors, however, pulled out a massive hematoma. It had to be the size of a golf ball.
The doctors had also decided to keep the wound open because they wanted to conduct a third operation either that night or the next morning. This operation would be under general anesthesia. It happened to be the next morning, which meant I was staying overnight.
As you could imagine, it was a miserable night. I could not even lay down because of the pain in the neck area. The doctors woke me up at 7am and tore open the patch which was over my wound, which was still open. Not a nice feeling. The doctors said, however, that the wound was not infected. Finally, some good news.
So the doctors had brought me again to what they called ‘the theatre’, which is basically the major operating area where patients are knocked out cold. The anesthesiologists that had looked over me this time was a diverse bunch: a young and nervous lady from India and an older, more mature, man from Sudan. Of course, the last thing I remember the doctor saying, ‘Okay, Craig, we are injected you now’. Next thing I knew, I was awake and in the recovery room.
In the recovery room, I had felt like vomiting. I had figured this was probably due to two knock-outs in 24 hours. I was also having trouble breathing, or so I thought. I had kept telling the friendly nurse that it felt like my breathing was off, but she said it was actually perfect as she looked at the monitor. She said the morphine was playing tricks with me.
I had to spend another night in the hospital. It is not even worth getting into how miserable that stay was.
In essence, as this story winds down, I should note that this event ranks right up there as one of the toughest few days of my life.
I cannot forget the feeling that went through me while I was alone, in my room, looking at the swelling of the wound, trying to catch up with my breathing and, all the while, trying to stay calm as not to do any more damage to myself. I will also never forget the face of the main nurse in the ER when she first saw me.
To be honest, I thought I was screwed. It had seemed like she felt so as well.
But, now that the storm has passed, I take this all in stride and see it as a test of my character.
I am a tough cookie. This has just made me even tougher.
And so life goes on.
Have you ever had to be knocked out for surgery?
But I have to. And I’m not exactly looking forward to it.
However, by no means am I worried. After all, I have no control over the situation. So why should I be?
Still, the thought of being incoherent is a little unnerving.
Let’s hope everything goes according to plan!
People think I’m an ‘a***ole’. Even worse, an ‘arrogant ****’.
I know so because of the anonymous hate (e-mail) mail that I received over the last few days.
I’m not lame enough to respond. But I must admit, I think a lot about the messages that I’ve received.
Who sent it? And why?
What’s wrong with these people?
Those are the questions running through my brain.
I sincerely hope these people find a way to come to peace with themselves. There’s really no point in taking their anger, perhaps their insecurities, out on me. Then again, what’s the difference between anger and insecurities?
I think the recent messages has to do with me posting the pictures from the photo shoot I had conducted over the last few weeks. Then again, who knows… it’s just a guess.
And to be honest, who cares?
I certainly don’t.
‘A competent and self-confident person is incapable of jealousy in anything. Jealousy is invariably a symptom of neurotic insecurity’. - Robert A. Heinlein
Friend and photographer Robbie Fry dropped off (last night) the final product of shots that he took of me over the past few weeks. Some are professional and some are us clearly having a bit of fun.
I’m very happy with how they turned out. Robbie did a great job.
I’ve put some of them in the pictures section. Click here to view.
Have you ever met or had a conversation with someone and thought to yourself: ‘this person is a genius’?
One evening, while the largely South Asian community broke the fast, I found myself talking with an academic from Boston University, who earlier that week had kindly welcomed me into her office for a chat about my research. This academic treated me as her own son, introducing me to people left and right, and indeed to her husband and family. One member of her family, however, stuck out to me more than the others.
That person was her daughter.
My first impression was the striking similarity between mother and daughter. The daughter was exceptionally bright. And I mean exceptionally bright. Indeed, it was almost intimidating for me to be in her presence (and I was 26 years old and a Ph.D. student)!
They say ‘like father, like son’.
Nay, ‘like mother, like daughter’.
The daughter was so mature and grounded that I thought she had to be at least 21 years old, in college, and going on to pursue a postgraduate degree in physics at Harvard or MIT. She asked me questions about my research, questions I had never really thought about, questions that stimulated my thinking. Her awareness and overall composure amazed me.
And she was only 15 years old!
I felt like I was in the company of something truly special.
This passage from a local newspaper is telling:
She spent a few weeks working with the very littlest children and a few weeks working with the older children. Everyone one loved (her), teachers, children counselors. She was a talented and amazing artist. She was quiet, compassionate and very, very kind. At the end of the summer, I asked the teaching staff to provide feedback on the counselors. (She) received glowing reports across the chart. All adored her.
It’s with sadness to write that the world is now one genius, one beautiful young lady, one great sister, and one future leader, short.
Her passing is all too familiar for me and strikes a chord of a distant heartache.
When I was 16 years old, growing up in the Boston suburb of Needham, Massachusetts, my best girl friend, Stephanie Kenney, passed away after being struck by a train. She was my first crush, but more than that, as we grew older, a close friend who I could run to when I had to talk about things that 16 years old deal with. She was always more mature than me.
For me, as I wrote this now, I can’t help but think of the similarity between the young daughter and Stephanie.
As they say, ‘only the good die young’.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
- Irish blessing
One of the rarities of our Western world today = two people sticking with the bond they made on their wedding day.
I’m, however, so lucky and SO honoured to be the son of a couple that has stuck together through thick and thin, through the good times and the bad, through all the trials and tribulations brought upon by this thing we call LIFE.
Today my parents (Chris and Debbie) are celebrating their 37th YEAR OF MARRIAGE!
Our age, in general terms if we consider how many Western relationships unfold, is one of gross selfishness, impulsiveness and infidelity. And yet here my parents are, still together and going strong, still thinking about what’s best not for the individual but for the family unit.
Certainly I will carry on the lessons they’ve exhibited in the marriage and family I hope to have one of these days.
HAPPY 37th ANNIVERSARY TO MY PARENTS!
Once upon a time, I was a pretty lethal striker on the soccer pitch. When I was about 9 or 10, I had something like 6 goals in one game. It’s a true story. You can ask my dad. He wouldn’t lie.
I ‘retired’ from the game when I was about 13, right before I tried out for my high school team. I ‘retired’ because I wanted to focus full time, year round, on the love of my life – basketball. My parents were pissed. My friends were confused and shocked.
Some have suggested that I would have been a better soccer player. Oh well… hindsight is a beautiful thing.
My greatest soccer memory was playing for the Needham Express while it made its run in the Massachusetts State soccer tournament (I believe we were playing in the under-13 group) out in Springfield, Massachusetts. It had to be about 1995.
Prior to our entry, I made a bet with my coach, Mr. Tom Day (he was a very good coach), that if we won the whole thing, he would have to shave his head (as I did before the tournament). Guess what…
We happened to win the entire tournament.
And who was the first player to take the clips to his head?
You bet. It was me.
I scored the winning goal – and only goal – in the championship game against the team from Danvers. It was a cross from the right-side of the pitch from Matt Chadwick. I was unmarked right in front of the goal and just headed the ball right in. It was the only goal of the game. We went bonkers.
It was also the only State Championship any of us ever won. If we only knew that at the time!
This picture was taken in the mid-1990s. I had to be about 12 years old. You can see how I small I was. To be honest, I was always much, much smaller than the rest of the chaps growing up. I didn’t hit my growth spurt until I was about 16 and I didn’t stop growing until I was about 22. I now stand at 6’1.
I look a bit like Mighty Mouse out there. Don’t you think?
The question in the title of this piece was thrown my way a few times yesterday.
Here’s the story…
I woke up to a gorgeous Dublin day and decided it was time to make a change; the change was being made through my hair, which was quite long (nearly down to my shoulders).
My mother had been telling me, ‘You look like a disciple’.
My father said I looked ‘homeless’ and that I should cut my hair.
While walking down the street, I would even hear people murmur under their breath, ‘He looks like Jesus’.
I knew it was time to cut it. Being compared to Jesus was too much for me.
So, I walked over to Thomas Street and popped into a hair salon called Global. I spoke with a friendly lady at the desk and asked her if they had any spots open for me. She gladly said yes and told me that Patrick, who was standing to the left of me, would be able to take care of me.
As I walked to the back of the salon, I could tell the hairdressers were excited to see what I was going to do with my hair. One lady asked with excitement, ‘Are you going to cut it all off!?’ Another said, ‘Whatever you do with it, I’m sure it will look good. You’re gorgeous’.
It was a bit awkward, but how could one not soak that up?
Patrick was a very stylish man. I have a feeling that many men wouldn’t be comfortable with a gay man cutting their hair. For me, it was the exact opposite. I figured he would be good.
Patrick has been in the business for over thirty years. He has worked in San Francisco and London. Now he is the head of artistry at Global. He travels often and serves as a judge at hair competitions around the world.
I was definitely in good hands.
Patrick and I randomly had a chat about the lovely Maria Doyle Kennedy, who I had seen sing in Kinsale a few months back. Patrick said he knew her. He also told me to not get any funny ideas. ’She’s married’, he said with a smile.
Patrick literally cut my hair in about 15 minutes. I was shocked. It took my hair dresser in Boston about 45 minutes to get this same cut back in 2008. I asked him for a vauxhawk and he had no idea what that term even meant. Anyways, I told him what I wanted and he said he knew exactly what to do. Even better, he said he would ‘modernize’ it a bit.
When it was all done, I got up from my seat and walked towards the register. I could see the sparkle in the ladies’ eyes. They clearly liked the transformation. One lady said I looked a Hollywood star. Another said I looked like Billy Zane. I was humbled even though I had no idea who Billy Zane was.
After the cut, I walked to TCD as I had a busy day with meetings and teaching. When I was standing outside the Postgraduate room, a few of my friends were shocked with what they saw. They said I looked like a totally different person. One girl said it was ‘radical’. Another said I looked like a ‘punk’.
A few times, several different women asked me ‘What possessed you to do this?’ I thought that this statement had a negative connotation. It felt like these women thought I was crazy. I took it in stride anyways.
‘What possessed me to do this?’ I’ll answer the question anyway.
I cut my hair not necessarily because it was long and annoying, but mainly to keep people on their toes. I think it’s important for people to have some type of mysterious aura floating over them. At least I prefer it this way.
Switching up your style shows people that you’re different, diverse, and confident.
That’s how I want people to think of me.
I woke up this morning in Dublin to a knock on my front door. I opened my window, peaked my head down to the street, and saw a man wearing a Fed Ex uniform.
There was a package.
After the Fed Ex man butchered my name (it’s Con-sa-dine and not Con-se-deen), my hands got on the package, so I searched for the sending address. The package was from the School of International Service at American University, Washington, D.C..
That narrowed it down. It was from the great Dr Akbar Ahmed.
The package wasn’t entirely a surprise. A few weeks back, Dr Ahmed had sent me an e-mail which said that Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam was now out in paperback. Considering I helped write the book, Dr Ahmed figured it was right to send me a copy.
I now have the copy in hand. It’s likely that I’m going to read it again in the near future. It will mark about the tenth time that I’ve done so.
So much has changed for me since the fall of 2008, when we (his team) first embarked on that unprecedented journey, which really had life-altering implications. The people I had met, the things I had seen, the experiences I had, and all that I learned from traveling with Dr Ahmed, are truly priceless and unforgettable.
Sometimes I think about how truly lucky I am to have such amazing people in my life. To be Dr Ahmed’s student, and one of his closest at that, is something I cherish deeply.
I’m truly a lucky man. That’s about the best way I can explain it. I wouldn’t be where I’m at today if it wasn’t for his spiritual and intellectual guidance.
For him I’m eternally grateful.