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What it is like to grow up in Hezbollah culture
February 28, 2014 8:15 PM   Subscribe

A tale of a young woman in Lebanon, related in a manner that should resonate with many Americans. "This story is an analogy to what the Shia, most of whom belong to Hezbollah culture, are like in Lebanon. I tell it because it presents things in familiar terms to many Western readers. When people ask me what it was like, to grow up in the lands where Hezbollah structured the predominant culture, I hesitate to answer, because I want them to understand."
posted by markshroyer (23 comments total) 69 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is amazing stuff. I will be thinking about it for a long time.
posted by emjaybee at 9:18 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


A very well done and worthwhile piece. While reading it I kept finding similarities with my own distressing, evangelical, fundamentalist, Christian upbringing in the south of this country. It was also abusive and controlling. Yes, I do know and fear such systems. The writer makes her points with great clarity and skill. I hope her father was not like my father and I am glad she got away.

Even if reason did not argue for atheism, as a woman, I would still be deprived of whatever communal warmth many find in churchly society because this kind of religion is inherently misogynistic and abusive. I say it was dreamed up in the first place by men, for men, and it seems continually to be defended and further embellished for the benefit of men.
posted by Anitanola at 9:31 PM on February 28 [10 favorites]


What a fantastic piece. She's outlined, so clearly, the qualities of so many religious movements in different parts of the world. A similar coupling of seemingly rational, ordinary lives, with what seem to me utterly batshitinsane beliefs is my chief difficulty with many of my colleagues. And how people who do not wield weapons themselves, are horrified by, for example, the Taliban terrorists, or the Lashkar-e-Taiba, and yet do not see how their own adherence to a belief system enables those groups.

Thank you. This really is great. I will follow her writings.
posted by bardophile at 9:41 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]


This is a great article, and beautifully written. I don't have much to say apart from that. For another completely different but similarly eye-opening look at the misunderstood Hezbollah boogey-man, check out Paintballing with Hezbollah, in the unlikely event you haven't read it already.
posted by Jimbob at 4:32 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


To suggest that the sort of deep-run Christian conservatism rooted in much of the Bible Belt is anything like Hezbollah might seem incredible.

Not so incredible, no.
posted by fancyoats at 5:24 AM on March 1 [5 favorites]


Hope I can write this well someday in one of my foreign languages. Thanks for posting.
posted by texorama at 6:06 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


If a reader of this piece thinks thqat backwoods Baptists are like Hezbollah, then read this... That a piece can be well wlritten and thus so appealing places an emphasis upon style rather than content...ask, then, those in Syria about Hezbollah, a group dominating Lebanon, financed by Iran, and now spreading out in Syria and on the American list of terror organizations for its past murders of Americans
posted by Postroad at 7:31 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the post! I found her explanation of Shia beliefs particularly interesting, succinct and well-written.
posted by goo at 7:51 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


If a reader of this piece thinks thqat backwoods Baptists are like Hezbollah, then read this... That a piece can be well wlritten and thus so appealing places an emphasis upon style rather than content...ask, then, those in Syria about Hezbollah, a group dominating Lebanon, financed by Iran, and now spreading out in Syria and on the American list of terror organizations for its past murders of Americans

You have entirely missed the point of what she is saying. She is describing how particular cultural and ideological beliefs can permeate a society, and that this happens in somewhat similar ways even in quite outwardly different groups. She even talks about how Hezbollah have managed to continue being seen as 'good' by many Lebanese Shia, despite their "horrible injustices" or (re: Syria) "participating in a slaughter and war they have no business in".

Or maybe you just didn't read it very closely.
posted by knapah at 8:05 AM on March 1 [12 favorites]


I'll add my thanks for this amazing essay.

> Or maybe you just didn't read it very closely.

Please don't bother arguing with Postroad. He has no interest in what she has to say, or in any analysis deeper than HEZBOLLAH BAD.
posted by languagehat at 8:17 AM on March 1 [3 favorites]


Let me say it thusly: I am an editor, and if I am ever graced by the chance to work with such prose, I'll feel like a gemcutter tasked with cutting a 100 carat diamond.
And what she has to say would be worth reading even if she was expressing herself in Basic English.
posted by hat_eater at 10:46 AM on March 1 [2 favorites]


"The Hezbollahi is a wild torrent surpassing the imagination. He is a maktabi [one who follows Islam comprehensively], disgusted with any leaning to the East or West. ... He is simple, sincere and angry. ... The Hezbollahi does not use eau de cologne, wear a tie or smoke American cigarettes. ... You might wonder where he gets his information. He is everywhere, serving your food, selling you ice-cream"

- Iranian Ministry of Islamic Guidance Brochure
Loved this article. Thanks for posting.
posted by azarbayejani at 10:49 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


Interesting piece. Thanks, markshroyer.
posted by homunculus at 1:49 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]


Thanks for posting. This was very eye-opening. Obviously I knew about some of the commonalities between fundamentalist religions, but this really drove the message home in a way I hadn't considered before. I've spent the last few hours reading many of her blog posts as well and they are all incredible.

texorama: "Hope I can write this well someday in one of my foreign languages. Thanks for posting."
FYI, she mentions in the comments that English is one of her first languages, as she is a dual citizen, and she is an English teacher in the US currently.
posted by coupdefoudre at 4:25 PM on March 1 [2 favorites]


I link to No Longer Quivering all the time, and nowadays I would add Love, Joy, Feminism, in that if you want to see the parallels between Muslim and Christian fundamentalist mindsets, you don't have to read too many accounts by the people who left those groups. The cultural flavors are different, the manipulation, victim-blaming, deceit and coercion are much the same.
posted by emjaybee at 6:31 PM on March 1 [5 favorites]


Fantastic blog - am so glad you shared it. And clear but sobering commonalities with all fundamentalist groups of whatever religion.
posted by leslies at 7:15 AM on March 2


Thank you for posting this. I was intrigued at first and then found myself unable to tear myself away from it. It's always eye opening to read about how other people live. This is a valuable website that I will be returning to often.
posted by queentut at 8:16 AM on March 2 [1 favorite]


I can't really speak to the rest of the article-these are her viewpoints, after all-but it seems that the sister of her partner was simply mentally ill.


Other than that, it was an interesting piece of writing.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:20 AM on March 2


it seems that the sister of her partner was simply mentally ill.

Indeed. It seems to me that it is the response to her mental illness from her family and community that the author is remarking upon.
posted by bardophile at 9:56 AM on March 2 [4 favorites]


Please don't bother arguing with Postroad.

After all, he is old enough to tell languagehat to get off his lawn and will whack you with his Foxy Grampa Ear Trumpet should you get too close.
posted by y2karl at 5:05 PM on March 2


What a fantastically brave piece. I lived in South Lebanon for two and a half years and I'm still not courageous enough to write about it yet.
posted by lauranesson at 4:21 PM on March 3


When mankind winds down and we tally it all up, I wonder if religion or greed will win out for causing the most needless suffering.
posted by Legomancer at 1:40 PM on March 6


Neither. The winner will be malice.
posted by y2karl at 4:56 PM on March 16


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