From Rover to Rumi

That’s it. I’ve had it with Billy Sardell and those Round Table Pizza people.

You know that new “Wombo Combo” the chain has been pitching on TV? Well, in one ad, a kind-of-dumb dog eats a slice and then goes on TV and mops up on a game show.

Seeing dollar signs, we ordered a Wombo Combo and then fed several slices to the house pooch. He made a few feeble attempts at verbal communication, perhaps the result of indigestion, perhaps not, but nothing close to the kind of thing that would make him competitive on Jeopardy. “Bark!” is not a winning answer, or question, and Alex Trebek would not be pleased—even if the dog is half-Canadian.

And he still barks at the mailman, when—if the Wombo Combo ad claims are anywhere near correct—he should be engaging in polite ( i.e., non-drooling) discourse.

Of course, it seems the whole world has gone barking mad, and much of that barking madness is over differences in religion. In a black-and-white world where you’re either with us or agin’ us, and Muslim equals “terraist,” there may not be room for such gray areas as Sufism—a pre-existing belief system that flowered under Islam and that uses the Quran as a sacred text. Still, as Nick Lowe once sang, what’s so funny ’bout peace, love and understanding? The Sufis are best known in the West for whirling dervishes, which spin them into an ecstatic state, and also for Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi, arguably the Barry White of 13th-century Eastern poets.

A group named Maktab Tarighat Oveyssi Shahmaghsoudi (School of Islamic Sufism), which has a rather spiffy Web presence at and a local center in Rancho Cordova (right near Warehouse Christian Ministries), is staging a Sufi celebration that it calls “Awakening Hearts” this Sunday at the California State University, Sacramento, University Ballroom. According to Lynn Wilcox, a practicing Sufi who teaches counseling at CSUS’ College of Education, the program will consist of Sufi love poems—the Sufi zikr—sung in English, Swahili and Farsi, backed by such traditional instruments as the sitar, the dumbek and others. Also on tap is a slideshow of Sufi-inspired imagery (calligraphy and architecture) along with “gourmet” refreshments. The program, sponsored by the CSUS Multi-Cultural Center, begins at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 25. Admission is $14 general and $7 for students.

The belief system’s template for personal transformation will be presented, too. “Sufism is famous for changing everything about you,” Wilcox said. “They call it ‘the alchemy of the soul,’ because it’s a discipline, and you learn how to regain your connection with your innermost self, and you learn how to let go of all the overlay—you know, the social learning and all that—and access the truest element of your own being.”