Friday, July 28, 2006

Baha'i Views Comes to a Close

Well, this brings to a close the first version of Baha'i Views. I am going to take to heart some recommendations I've received regarding what constitutes best blog practices and incorporate them in Baha'i Views 2. Watch for its inaugeral post. -gw

Thursday, July 27, 2006

On Life in Haifa: When Darkness Falls, the Lights Are On

Christine and Brian re-posted on their blog the following article that appeared yesterday in an Israeli newspaper. -gw

Shrine of the Báb illuminated in celebration of Naw-Rúz

At the Bahá’í Shrine, the routine is maintained.

Even when the sirens don’t quit, the calm of the Bahá’í Shrine in Haifa is not effected. Even the lights are not turned off until midnight. “This is our way of uplifting the morale”, says a representative of the place, “perhaps the future is scary, but in the end the peace will come.”

Every evening, when the darkness falls, the lights of the Bahá’í Shrine are turned on and it is one of the most spectacular places in Israel. One might think that during the days of war, the Bahá’ís would dim the lights so that it wouldn’t turn the Shrine into a target for the Lebanese rockets, but the opposite is true. The illumination of the Shrine that looks over the Haifa bay and Lebanon are lit every day until midnight.

“This is our way to uplift the morale of the citizens of Haifa”, explained the Deputy Secretary of the Bahá’í organization, Murray Smith from New Zealand, “it is symbolic in our view, to keep the lights on in the darkness of war. I hope this message comes across.”

In normal times the Bahá’í Shrine and the terraces are one of the central tourist attractions in Israel. Every month it is visited by about 60 thousand visitors. From the beginning of the war the gardens have been closed. Even the 80 gardeners of the most beautiful well-kept gardens in the country don’t come to work. Now the heads of the community are worried about the health of the plants and beautiful flowers.

From the time the rockets have fallen on Haifa ...the 700 volunteers from 80 countries do their best to maintain their routines. “We have gone through hard times in the past, for example, the Gulf War” explained Smith yesterday, “and we have good bomb shelters, a strong communication system, and a sufficient supply of food and water. Most of the places at the Baha'i World Centre are very safe, because they are literally in the mountain.”

When the sirens are heard, a sound system announces to the workers to go to protected areas and stay there for 15 minutes. Yesterday, minutes after the alarm, a volunteer in the Library named Tazien continued to sit in the Library and work -- she explained, “I hope by the Will of God all will be ok.”

Maarten Scot from Holland, married and a father to a seven month old, who works in the Statistics Department, came as usual to work. “When the first rocket hit Haifa I was in shock, one wouldn’t expect this and it is even a little worrisome”, he explained, “if ones looks a lot at the media you get the feeling that the city is on fire, but from here, when I look at the city — it is the same city”.

The Bahá’ís believe in world harmony and peace. Even yesterday, in the heat of another day of war, the peace in this place is maintained even though the sirens don’t stop going off.

Under one of the most magnificent buildings at the Centre, are below ground bomb shelters that can easily accommodate all the workers. Long tunnels lead to bomb shelters that are clean and well kept...Even with how the bomb shelters look, only some of the workers come to them when the sirens go off.

“The Bahá’ís understand that the world is going through a tough time. There will be tough problems or wars, until people realize the message of peace”, added Smith, “so we need to stay here, to continue as usual and to promote the idea of peace. From our standpoint, this message is more important then everything else. We are not naïve and we know this involves a lot of work, but in the end the Peace will come. Perhaps the near future is hard and scary, but the distant future is bright, and that is what the lights of the Shrine symbolize.”

On Baha'is in Haifa: Those Links Again

For those readers who may have missed these two articles regarding the situation in Haifa for Baha'is, here are the links:

Here is a listing of Haifa Baha'i bloggers, some mentioned in a previous post, that you can check in with for their personal updates on their current experiences:

Pic from marthatheresa's blog

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

On A Level of Charm: Baha'i, Muslim, Protestant, Catholic

Working in unity in a diverse world does have a certain charm to it, doesn't it. -gw

Fathom please an office with a devout Baha'i, secular Muslim, and non-practicing Evangelical Protestant comprising the primary staff. Then imagine these men gaining a contract to design a Roman Catholic Church in what is likely an overwhelming native community. I’m afraid that I cannot recall which community it is, but when I check that tomorrow, I’ll add it as I suspect that’s going to add another level of charm. Community consultation about this design may actually be interesting.

Teilani, "Another amusing moment from the office," LiveJournal

On Baha'i Weddings: Marry Each Other, No Middleman

For the non-Baha'i, attending a Baha'i wedding can provide another marvelous introduction to the spirit of the Faith. - gw

My oldest friend got married about a week ago: Isn't she beautiful? They both are... on the inside and out. I was one of her bridesmaids. She is Baha'i and in their religion the bride and groom marry each other-- no middleman. Just when you thought you were safe, new media has infiltrated the wedding process... well, no, not really... the Baha'i faith is a couple hundred years old... but, I like to think of it that way. It was a very intense ceremony to watch, and certainly the most moving wedding that I've ever been to by far.

On New Baha'i Blogs: A Mother Earth Baha'i and Her Family

So many of the new blogs by Baha'is coming online with each passing day are simply amazing. Each blogger represents another facet of the Baha'i community. This one is about a Baha'i homesteader. Here are two posts, one about her becoming a Baha'i and the second about being a stepfamily. All pics are from her blog, Rooster in the Roaster. This is going to be a fun blog to check in with. -gw

Monday, July 24, 2006

Our Family is Baha'i. I coverted to Baha'i 12 yrs ago. I was raised going to Methodist and Prespitarian churches. Though we went to church pretty regularly throughout my junior high and high school yrs we didnt practice much at home. It was just something we did on Sunday. All the while however, I had this amazing friend, Lauretta. She was being raised Baha'i in a huge family. All of her friends were Baha'i. Through the many yrs of hanging out with Rett I got a healthy dose of the Faith. Even with these forces in play, when I was 19 ish I would confidently say that I didnt believe in God. It was after the birth of my first daughter and a seperation from her father that knocked me on my butt that caused me to question my beliefs. I began looking around for the 'right' answers. I started visiting churches on Sundays. I figured Christianity had to be the 'right' choice. After all there was a church literally on every corner in my town. I did this for about two yrs. I settled into an Apisciple church as they had provided 'moms day out' gatherings each month. So- it was one Sunday morning in the middle of services there that I stood up in worship along with the croud and was bopped on the head with the realisation that I was a Baha'i! Yep. Thats how it happened. I went home and called my dear friend, Rett, and asked "how do I become a Baha'i ?" She about fell out of her chair! :)

As a result of this coversion, I met my current husband. He was brought to the Faith through his first wife and had long been a Baha'i. He was also the only other Baha'i in my town. So we met and the rest is history.

After all these yrs I still love the Faith. I have had my ups and downs spiritually. The reason the Faith is so dear to me is because of its drive for Unity. Unity of all the world's religions, unity of the human race, unity of the sexes. You dont have to hate anyone to be a Baha'i. Its ok to love. You dont have to be perfect either. As my husband says- to become a Baha'i doest mean you have reached a destination (perfection) but rather that you agree to get in the car and go for the ride.

posted by Carrie @ 9:28 PM, Monday, July 24, 2006, "The Baha'i Faith," The Rooster in the Roaster
Saturday, July 01, 2006
Ohhhhh the joy of step families!
Well they are what they are. A mashing together of numberous different minds with their varied baggage. Jody calls us- Marbles in a can.

When I met Jody through the Faith I was still married to my two older girls' father. Jody had been divorced a year. Jody and I were acquaintances for a yr or so and after my marriage split I looked him up. It was another year until our wedding day. You can tell how much I love Jody. He was a single dad of 4- that's right four- full time kids. I was twenty six and had been a mom for all of 5 yrs. Combined we had kids aged 15, 13, 10, 6, 5 & 3. Two years later we added an "ours" to the 'yours and mine' senerio. We spent several years running kids to and from various visitations and juggling the needs of angry teens and cuddly school agers. We are 9 yrs into it and now have just 4 kids at home. Things are a lot calmer though we still experience big bumps.

Knowing what I know now...would I do it all over. No way! I would just kid nap Jody and run far away! Would I recommend doing the blended thing? Never! Its a hard road and I am not sure there is any winning in the end. All I can say is that I figure if 4 out of 7 of them come back for Thanksgiving when their grown- then we did alright. We'll have to see how that all turns out. In the mean time, we keep doing our best.

This picture [above left] was taken two yrs ago when the oldest came home for a visit.

posted by Carrie @ 8:02 PM, 8:02 PM , Saturday, July 01, 2006, "Step Families," Rooster in the Roaster

On Change: The Majesty of Creation

Everything changes. Everything is in a state of evolution. Even religion. This is a basic Baha'i belief. Vafa expresses his love for observing the process of change in this remarkable blog reflection. - gw

This evening was an interesting one. My father was interviewed on the phone by a Canadian Baha’i Persian radio station. We kept very quiet for the duration of it. It went really well apparently. Later on in the evening, before I went to bed, I told my parents that it looked likely at this point that a tropical storm or hurricane would form in the Gulf of Mexico and hit us in the next 48 hours. He looked puzzled, and asked me a very good question, as always. Why was I so interested in the weather? And I made reply. It is not the weather that interests me, persay, but change which interests me. The weather is ever-changing, and one can see it most beautifully in the tropics and how it changes continuously, spinning up storms and hurricanes. One can watch the clouds spin in almost real time and see how lows form and winds increase and so on. It is this that is interesting to me, one can look at computer models of those changes and compare them to each other and see how they evolve too. The clouds and the rain do not interest, but how they change interests. It is by no means restricted to this, however. No matter what it is, whether it be stock prices, company plans, government changes, wars, viruses such as bird flu, watching how communities, countries, populations change, belief patterns change, Faiths grow, mature and interact, history itself—these are what interest me. As one watches such things continuously, one begins to get a feel for them, a feel for how they have changed and will change. It is exciting; to watch how one’s predictions compare to reality, adjust them, watch again, take in more information, adjust again. At the end of the day, one sees the majesty of creation, because that is what it is—it’s flux, always changing, always evolving, never the same, just like life on this planet and this planet itself, the oceans, the reefs, the continents, the ecosystems, Gaia, so to speak. It’s what makes music so beautiful, because it’s never the same, no note is quite the same because each time it is surrounded by an environment of new notes and new prior melodies. Each verse, each repetition of the melody adds something new and beautiful to the equation. Watching how people change--themselves, how they grow, how they look different in time, how they think differently, plan differently, feel differently, how their interactions and relationships change—that is fascinating. In fact, I think that’s why I’m doing a PhD in developmental biology—it’s the closest I could get to trying to figure out the mystery of life changes. He joked. Was I interested then in watching fishes swim in fish bowls then—because they’re changing all the time too. In fact, I said, yes, I do, I watch them all the time…

posted by Vafa Bayat at 12:28 AM 24 July 2006, "48 hours," Vafa's Blog: My Thoughts on Life

On Baha'is in Kyrgyzstan: How Widespread, How Diverse Is the Faith

That the Baha'i Faith is the 2nd most widespread religion in the world is an oft-quoted statistic. The Faith is in places like Kyrgyzstan. -gw

This is most of the Baha'i national assembly in Kyrgyzstan. They invited us to go eat with them after their meeting, which was nice, and they're a pretty diverse group of people.

posted by JamesG at 10:44 AM
Kazakhstan Trip

On Social Tolerance: The Baha'i Faith as Refreshingly New

Religion has always been the source of moral authority in the world, Baha'is assert. Leaders of government recognize this as fact as well. -gw

Guest speaker...Kingston Mayor Desmond McKenzie said at a time when Jamaicans are losing faith in politicians and the traditional church, the Baha'i message of spirituality and racial unity should be emulated.

"We have always depended on the traditional churches to create the foundation for moral respect and social tolerance. However, we are concerned that the traditional churches seem to have lost their voices lately when it comes to the issue of morality," said the mayor. "And since the politicians are not considered to have the moral authority, it is the newer churches and religions like the Baha'i and their refreshingly new view of morality to which we must turn."

Baha'i celebrate," published: Wednesday July 26, 2006, Jamiaca Gleaner

On the Baha'i Pilgrims in Haifa: The View from Moscow

Name:Arthur Ketcham
Location:Moscow, Russian Federation
I am a 22 year old student who enjoys outdoors, thinking about life, and dreaming about the future. I am a christian, and I seek to serve humanity with whatever gifts God has given me. This picture is from the 2004 ASWWC Costume Party.

Art is the son of a member of my Baha'i cluster, Ed, who is on a teaching team with me, among the many teaching teams here in Cluster 19. I had a truly small world feeling when I came across his blog some months ago and realized that this was Ed's son. Here is Art's post regarding the situation in the Haifa. -gw

20 July 2006, Baha'i Pilgrims Amid the Strife

Jen pointed out
this article that was on the BBC recently.

"The Kuykendall family from Seattle in the US arrived on Sunday (to Haifa, where the Lebanese rockets continue to fall) as part of a 150-strong group of Baha'i pilgrims. They came to visit the majestic Baha'i temple, the focal point of their faith, which adorns the slopes of Haifa's awe-inspiring Mount Carmel.

"The violence saddens more than worries me, but it makes this a uniquely different experience," said Marsha Kuykendall, as she ate breakfast in the Dan Panorama Hotel with her husband and two teenage children.

"We waited seven years to do this pilgrimage, so even in the midst of all this, you look on it as a life-altering experience, hoping our prayers will in fact bring humankind together."

My father is a Baha'i, and I grew up around Baha'i culture. They are extremely peacful people, and they espouse the ideas of unity and charity very deeply. These are things that humanity would be blessed by more of. Sure, the world isn't perfect, and there are wars and rumors of wars here and there, but I personally am glad that some people can see what matters beyond strife and combat. I was remided again of the verse from James about "pure and faultless religion": To look after the widowed and fatherless in their distress, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

Perhaps one day my father can make this journey to the Baha'is main temple in Haifa Israel. I would like to go with him. The holy land holds a special place in my heart, as it does for so many.

posted by Excalibur at
22:11 1 comments

Monday, July 24, 2006

On New Baha'i Blogs: time with tash, not by accident, but by design

On Choosing to Be a Baha'i: Fred Speaks

Fred was posed five questions on Live Journal, the first of which was about how he came to be a Baha'i. Fred's response is below.

Fred Speaks
2006-07-24 02:42 pm UTC (link)

What made you choose the Baha'i faith?

I've always been inclined to ask questions of people, and as you may be aware, sometimes those questions can be hard to answer. I've also been inclined to want answers which actually have depth to them. As such, while growing up in a variety of Christian churches (my mother used to go church shopping a lot, which I think helped start me on my own search) I would ask questions which the Sunday School teachers & often the Ministers were unprepared to handle. Many of them were questions which highlighted my confusion at the very illogic of expecting things like the Return of Christ to happen, word for word, as it is spelled out in the Bible. Some of them were about the differences & similarities between the Old & New Testament prophecies and, when I got older & started reading what other religions taught about themselves, questions of the "Why can't all just get along" variety. I cannot ever remember getting satisfactory answers to any of these questions from anybody. In fact, several times I was effectively told to shut up God will reveal it to you in time.

One day, during the first week after my graduation from High School, my girlfriend of the time had, for various reasons beyond the scope of this discussion, gone to room with two of her friends. They were Baha'is. I had heard of the Baha'i faith but had not yet the chance to read anything about it. She sat me on the couch next to a shelf full of books with interesting names and went into the kitchen to prepare something. I pulled a book out of the shelf, looked at it, tried to pronounce
Kitab-i-Iqan, and then opened it and started reading. By chance Baha'u'llah was answering many of my long-standing questions in that book. I have to say that God did reveal to me His answers to my questions, profoundly, unequivocally and with great clarity. When I learned that He had written that book in a space of 48 hours I was astonished. It took me longer than that to read it.

The rest, as they say, is history. If I now have questions about anything spiritual I can always find an answer in Baha'u'llah's writings. I would advise you to check them out yourself, but I already have. :D

Fred, "Five Questions Meme (Fred)," capplor, LiveJournal

Saturday, July 22, 2006

On Flickr: Keen (In)Sight by Henna 83

flickr continues to amaze. Each photo is a blog entry of its own. Henna83's photo sets caught my eye. -gw
I'm a Baha'i. I love people. I'm trying to figure things out right now. Make it all better. Make myself better. That's what I've been doing for years. Now it's finally really feels better. I have a lot of experience but some say I'm naive. In some realms I'd have to agree. I have a lot on my mind and sometimes don't know when to stop. I'm optimistic but I see a lot of barriers in my path. Sometimes I get depressed and think my life will never work for me. Other times I see nothing but joy in it. Its during these times I get a lot of work done. Productive times are beneficial to me. I don't think anybody really knows me but that's ok. Because I know I am constantly changing. I have yet to stick to something. I use to be really scared of living. I'm learning that I shouldn't be.
"I liked this shot because it included Shiva and other Gods from Hinduism.
The lighting in the room is spectacular. " -henna83

Friday, July 21, 2006

On Finding a Baha'i in the Neighborhood: "Almost everyone answered their doors"

Kellah went out sharing her Christian faith and encountered a Baha'i, among others.

Awesome day. Began with service with Mandy, Hiruy, and Eric. Ended up in the absolute weirdest neighborhood EVER. Almost everyone answered their doors. Most memorable ones:

-Met a guy with the Baha'i faith (or is it B'ahai?). Anyway, very very interesting. He stopped to share with us his beliefs, and we lightly compared and contrasted. Well, there wasn't much contrasting, as he believes that all religions are correct and are founded with God--including Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.

-Ran into another guy as he was on his way out. Said he was very interested and hadn't been to church in a long time, and invited me to come back.

-A man drove by us as we were about to go take a break and asked what we were doing. Eric took it and ended up talking to this guy for about 20 minutes. At first we were really excited because he knew the Bible well and wanted to know our beliefs. Then it turned into a pointless debate. The guy kept running himself into cicles about the Trinity digging his own hole. It finally wrapped up... we were all pretty disappointed. The guy was trying to minister to us, as Eric was to him. I think he was a youth pastor, or something.

-Eric and I went to this door that he took with a guy whom I'm pretty sure is an idiot savant. The craziest conversation EVER ensued. Seriously. I can't even begin to remember all of it, except for his emphasis on his pessimism. He freaked out when Eric told him to have a good day and said not to use the "G" word. Oh man. I was cracking up the entire time.

Kellah, "Point A and Point B, Inbetween = Pessimism...," LiveJournal

On Blog-Chatter Among Family and Friends: Rach's Pinpoint of Light, an Ember, a Spark

Rach is a thoughtful woman, a teacher, a wife, a sister, and a mother. She is on a spiritual journey.

There is a pinpoint of light that is a little ember, a spark. I know God is around me and I know he is with me, I just don't know how to go about strengthening MY relationship with Him. I want my spark to become a flame!

I know part of what is holding me back is "what will people think??" if I no longer identify myself as Christian. What will my mother think?? My mother-in-law?? My friends?? Yes, my beliefs are my own and my relationship with God is personal, but how do I explain this to them? I'm so very lost and confused!
posted by rachd @
7/18/2006 10:28:00 PM 5 comments

At 12:06 AM, Adam's Mom said...
I know where you are, I am there too. I believe in God, in a supreme being that is powerful and wonderful. I believe this not because the church has told me to but because I feel His power when I am still. When I am talking with Him or like you said, out in nature appreciating all He has given to us. I just cannot believe in a vengeful God. I want Adam to feel the peace I have felt in nature and find that closeness. I don't want to force him into a church where he is told of a scary God. I am babbling, but I understand what you wrote.

At 12:13 AM, Bonita said...
When we approach our Father, his love is without boundaries or constraints. Man makes those. I'm sure that as you educate your daughters in the beauty of nature, you will deepen your own appreciation and share this with your daughters. That will lead to more questions, and quests which provide direction and meaning. It is to be celebrated, like a journey. I'm confident that you, and your family, will find personal expressions that 'fit you', that are authentic and real. Thats what counts, in my opinion.Sometimes, too, we have one foot in the traditions and practice of our family (of origin), and the other foot in a new direction, balancing one and the other, integrating gently. I think of Buddhist Baha'is who still practice the culture and traditions of their homeland, while merging into the global frameworks and ideals of Baha'i. Nothing is forfeited or put away; it is simply enriched, like a child going from 3rd grade to 4th grade. An ongoing journey. Even when you 'arrive'you continue moving, with more questions.I'm confident that your family will find a confident balance.

At 12:20 AM, Jess said...
Rach, go to the library and... get a few books! I found that was a great place to start. Also, you should have no worries about what mom thinks. She has been accepting of me studying Baha'i. It isn't like she is a dogmatic follower of Christianity. As for everyone else, I just can't say what you should do. I know many families have developed strong rifts because of religious differences and that is really too bad. Honestly, the only negative things I hear from people are those who are totally unfamiliar with Baha'i. I had one friend actually think I was being hooked into a New Age cult!!!! Hee Hee!

And, yes, it is terribly revealing putting all your thoughts and feelings on a blog. It would almost be easier if family and friends DIDN'T read it because most of us don't fear the judgments of those we don't know nearly as much as we fear those of our loved ones.

At 11:40 PM, Joe said...
Well, you did it – you finally posted a blog entry that I felt compelled to comment upon!First, I have to say that I’m in awe of your courage. I could NEVER post my own views of religion in a forum in which my family would be present. Like you, I grew up in a very conservative, fundamentally religious area (we Appalachian country yungins are all the same, huh), Mine was primarily Southern Baptist and Holiness (if you’re not familiar with Holiness churches, think “Southern Baptists on crack”). My parents were never zealous church-goers during my childhood (my Mom is now – I think she’s in her “I’m getting old – I gotta get right with Jesus” mode), but my grandmother, many members of my family, and the families of many of my friends were VERY, VERY religious. Their brands of religion were always heavily dosed with intolerance for other religions (people from any non-Protestant faith were certainly damned to Hell) and ethnicities (the white descendents of western Europeans were obviously God’s true children). I never really bought into any of it as a teenager, but because of their influences, I was certainly prejudiced in my opinion of people that were “different” than me.

Joining the Air Force at age 21 changed all of that. I found myself working side-by-side with people from many different faiths, creeds, races, and socio-economic backgrounds. I learned to judge people not by my childhood prejudices, but by their character and their contributions to society. Over time, these experiences changed me on a spiritual level, too, and made me strongly questions the beliefs of my upbringing. I now consider myself an agnostic simply because I don’t know what to believe. I’m definitely not an atheist, because that would require an absolute disbelief in a supreme being. I feel in my heart that some sort of higher power does exist; I’m just not privy to its true nature and I’m not convinced that anyone else is either.

The pressures that you and Brien feel to teach Hannah about religion are only going to get worse, and they will come from the place you least expect it: From Hannah herself. When she starts public school this fall, she will be surrounded by children that have a great deal of parentally imposed knowledge about “God” and “Jesus”. You can be assured that she will ask you about them – Bryan blindsided me with it after school one day last year. Be prepared for it; Cindy and I really weren’t, but we’ve tried to temper it with, “Well, that’s what some people believe.” The jury is still out on whether we’ve chosen the right approach. At Bryan’s school, they do make a point of celebrating many winter holidays from different religions and cultures – everything from Ramadan and Hanukkah to Kwanzaa and Chinese New Year to Buddhist, Hindu, and Native American celebrations for which I can’t even recall the names (kind of impressive for a school that’s dominated by upper middle class white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant children of Air Force officers). Around March of this year, Bryan asked me if we could celebrate Hanukkah AND Christmas this year (he likes to eat the latkes and I think he’s trying to scam us for more presents). I said, “Sure”…then he made a point of telling my Mom all about it…when she called him on Easter Sunday! I think that episode may have taken a couple of years off the poor woman's life!

Anyway, hang in there, and if you happen to get it all figured out before I do, please let me know! See you soon.

rachd and commenters, "Religion Confusion," Life With Hannah and Lily

On Backbiting: Guidance from the Quran

"Backbiting" by Lacey Graves Gerard: graphic designer, Baha'i, wife, painter, consumer of coffee, lover of type and photography. Lives in Chicago, but mentally sometimes Tennessee and Georgia

peaceful core observes that "America thrives on backbiting" and looks to the Quran for inspiration in breaking her of the habit.

this journey of faith
[Jul. 18th, 200606:41 pm]

Tags: backbiting, bad habits, baha'i, quran

Current Mood: thoughtful

Current Music: Obiero by Ayub Ogada

It has been two years since I discovered the Baha'i Faith. And in the past journey in my new faith and the present, I would pick something I had to struggle with to bring myself closer to God and to follow Baha'u'llah's teachings more adequately. I remember the first was getting in the habit of praying every day the prescribed prayers and reading twice a day from holy scriptures. I would like to say I have accomplished that but, every once in awhile I will come home from a busy day or often a day of airport traveling and not do so. I have set forth other personal challenges over the 2 years as well. But, I must say the latest one is a hard, hard habit to break...........Backbiting. American culture thrives on backbiting. And most of the time I don't even realize what I am saying. Sometimes I do realize it and stop myself. Sometimes, sadly I realize it and continue. But I am honestly working on it. And hopefully little by little I will cease this bad habit.

I am almost done with reading the Quran, I set out to read a sura a night. And today I came across.

"Do not spy on one another or speak ill of people behind their backs; would any of you like to eat the flesh of your dead brother? No, you would hate it. So be mindful of God; God is ever relenting, most merciful" 49:12

and also

"Believers, no one group of men should jeer at another, who may after all be better than them; no one group of women should jeer at another, who may after all be better than them; do not speak ill of one another; do not use offensive nicknames for one another. How bad it is to be called a mischief-maker after accepting faith! Those who do not repent of this behaviour are evildoers." 49:11

All I can do is pray on it and make an effort everyday.
Much love to all.

peacefulecore, "this journey of faith," LiveJournal

Thursday, July 20, 2006

On Prayers for Safety in Haifa: "I said the Muslim prayer he knows in Arabic will do"

Many of the young adult Baha'is serving at the Baha'i World Centre in Haifa, Israel, come from Baha'i families. Many do not.

Monday, July 17, 2006. I finally was able to convince my parents this morning after five days of negotiations that I and Amir shouldn't come home because of what is happening in the Middle East right now. It was hard. And I don't blame them. When panic penetrates mind and body it is really hard to get the message through. It required a lot of love and patience. They are terrified by the news they recieve every day on TV. I hope the whole thing won't last very long. I asked my father to pray for us (he is not a Baha'i, nor is my mom) and he was so cute saying he doesn't know any Baha'i prayers. He was happy when I said that the Muslim one he knows in Arabic would do:) Phew!!!!

tahmina & amir, "Success," Unite the Hearts

On Perceptions of the Baha'i Faith: Growth and Theology

Here is a snippet from the profile on the Baha'i Faith by the Watchman Fellowship. just 150 years Baha'is have grown to more than 5 million worldwide in 233 countries and territories, with 1,700 Spiritual Assemblies in the United States alone. New growth is occurring at the rate of 5.5% a year worldwide. By comparison, Christianity is expanding at a rate of 2.3% a year. Baha'u'llah's writings have been translated into 802 languages.

Baha'i theology, like Baha'i history, is very difficult to state concisely. The Faith is still relatively new, yet there are hundreds of volumes of written material. Symbolic meaning abounds, and interpretation of many points is in flux. However, in the broad sweep of doctrine many things can be said.

On Departure: "So take care my dearest friend"

We all appreciate a teacher. We're sad when we no longer have our teacher's counsel.

Melaka, Malaysia

To: Somebody i know for quite a long time...
you mean a lot to me... don't know why u said you're not important to me... i was like shock when i heard it... don't you know that you've really helped me very much during this few toughest years i've ever had? since i'm 12, started to join baha'i activities, busying here, busying there... practices, courses, talks, feasts, everything... you're the one who gave me lots and lots and lots of advices... you really mean a lot for me... you're the one who i'll always look for when i need advice, comment from you... you really helped me a lot during this period of time... and now, you're leaving us, leaving melaka... for good... i know you're leaving for good... but i really can't just like let u go so easily... things won't be the same after u leave... and i'll like starting to miss you everyday, every year... this will be the last year you'll be in melaka... and ... i''ll really miss you a lot, i bet it... cause tears are really like dropping down from my eyes now... i don't really know what will really happen to me after you've leave... will we be like best buddies after you've leave? will we be like best buddies after you leave and then come back to melaka again??? who can i look for advice whenever i need comments? who can i look for??!!! everything won't be the same again... but, i have to let you go... as you're leaving for good... maybe you won't come back again... i just don't know what will i be after this... but one thing for sure... i'll always refer to baha'i writings, but it will be hard for me as no one will explain for me in the future... no one will ever take your place in my heart... so take care my dearest friend, and hope sarawak will really grow after you've get back to your hometown... all the best to you! and hope you'll always remember me... thanks alot...

mingshu, "A letter wrote specially for you... my dearest fren," Look Things From Other Way MSNSpaces

On Departure: In and Out of the Garden Gate

Another much-repeated metaphor of the Faith... The Baha'i Faith is like a beautiful garden. Some only admire it from outside the garden gate, ooh-ing and aah-ing. Some enter the garden to tend it and never to leave its beauty. Still others enter to tend the garden but find for some reason that they must depart it once again. The Faith is open to all to admire, to tend it, or to leave it. The garden gate opens in and out. Humankind has free will. Linda's story is an illustration. Here are the last two paragraphs of Part 6 of a series of posts.

And that's the end of the story of why I broke up with RK. After he left I felt free to pursue the other relationship and that is working out well for both of us. RK still lives next door and we are all on friendly terms.

And as for my religion, though my new significant other encouraged me to pursue it and though I said some Baha'i prayers and considered my relationship to the Faith, I've decided not to get back into it for so many reasons having mainly to do with my personal interests that won't mesh with Baha'i life, and my emotional problems which include extreme guilt trips when I can't be the 'perfect Baha'i'. So I'm on my own now, still very spiritually alive and loved by God, but not getting into any organized religions. I am grateful for the time I spent as a Baha'i. It taught me a lot. Also I'm grateful for the time I spent with RK. I think we both accomplished a lot, I got to save his life which makes me feel very good, and there was no harm in it.

Linda, "Why I split up with RK - part six," My Space

On Haifa Baha'i Bloggers: Hearing It First-Hand

Devin in suit with friends, Haifa, March 2006

Here is Devin's list of Haifa Baha'i bloggers whose sites you can check into for up-to-the-moment information on the status there:

Many people are thirsty for information with regard to what is happening right now in Israel and Lebanon. I am lucky to still have friends in the region that have kept me in the loop. It is always good to balance what you see in the media with what the average person on the streets witnesses.

Fortunately, a few of those friends who are living in Haifa happen to have blogs. Some of them have written just a pinch about the present situation and some of them have written a little more. If you are interested to read any of these personal accounts here they are:





Devin, "Heard It First-Hand from Haifa," devinRychetnik 私の日本人は非常に悪い

On the Baha'i Concept of God: Omnipotent and Omniscient

The website of the International Baha'i Community provides a wealth of basic information about the Faith and is a good entry point for study of any subject. Here, for example, is...

The Bahá'í Concept of God1

The Bahá'í belief in one God means that the universe and all creatures and forces within it have been created by a single supernatural Being. This Being, Whom we call God, has absolute control over His creation (omnipotence) as well as perfect and complete knowledge of it (omniscience). Although we may have different concepts of God's nature, although we may pray to Him in different languages and call Him by different names--Allah or Yahweh, God or Brahma--nevertheless, we are speaking about the same unique Being.

Extolling God's act of creation, Bahá'u'lláh said:

All-praise to the unity of God, and all-honor to Him, the sovereign Lord, the incomparable and all-glorious Ruler of the universe, Who, out of utter nothingness, hath created the reality of all things, Who, from naught, hath brought into being the most refined and subtle elements of His creation, and Who, rescuing His creatures from the abasement of remoteness and the perils of ultimate extinction, hath received them into His kingdom of incorruptible glory. Nothing short of His all-encompassing grace, His all-pervading mercy, could have possibly achieved it.2

Image: Michaelangelo's characterization
Bahá'u'lláh taught that God is too great and too subtle a Being for the finite human mind ever to understand Him adequately or to construct an accurate image of Him:

How wondrous is the unity of the Living, the Ever-Abiding God--a unity which is exalted above all limitations, that transcendeth the comprehension of all created things.... How lofty hath been His incorruptible Essence, how completely independent of the knowledge of all created things, and how immensely exalted will it remain above the praise of all the inhabitants of the heavens and the earth!3

According to Bahá'í teachings, God is so far beyond His creation that, throughout all eternity, human beings will never be able to formulate any clear image of Him or attain to anything but the most remote appreciation of His superior nature. Even if we say that God is the All-Powerful, the All-Loving, the Infinitely Just, such terms are derived from a very limited human experience of power, love, or justice. Indeed, our knowledge of anything is limited to our knowledge of those attributes or qualities perceptible to us:

Know that there are two kinds of knowledge: the knowledge of the essence of a thing and the knowledge of its qualities. The essence of a thing is known through its qualities; otherwise, it is unknown and hidden.

As our knowledge of things, even of created and limited things, is knowledge of their qualities and not of their essence, how is it possible to comprehend in its essence the Divine Reality, which is unlimited? ... Knowing God, therefore, means the comprehension and the knowledge of His attributes, and not of His Reality. This knowledge of the attributes is also proportioned to the capacity and power of man; it is not absolute.4

Image: "God is love" in Chinese
Thus for human beings the knowledge of God means the knowledge of the attributes and qualities of God, not a direct knowledge of His essence. But how are we to attain the knowledge of the attributes of God? Bahá'u'lláh wrote that everything in creation is God's handiwork and therefore reflects something of His attributes. For example, even in the intimate structure of a rock or a crystal can be seen the order of God's creation. However, the more refined the object, the more completely is it capable of reflecting God's attributes. Since the Messenger of God or Manifestation of God is the highest form of creation known to us, the Manifestation affords the most complete knowledge of God available to us:

Whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth is a direct evidence of the revelation within it of the attributes and names of God, inasmuch as within every atom are enshrined the signs that bear eloquent testimony to the revelation of that Most Great Light.... To a supreme degree is this true of man.... For in him are potentially revealed all the attributes and names of God to a degree that no other created being hath excelled or surpasssed.... And of all men, the most accomplished, the most distinguished, and the most excellent are the Manifestations of the Sun of Truth. Nay, all else besides these Manifestations, live by the operation of their Will, and move and have their being through the outpourings of their grace.5

Although a rock or a tree reveals something of the subtlety of its Creator, only a conscious being such as man can dramatize God's attributes in his life and actions. Since the Manifestations are already in a perfected state, it is in their lives that the deeper meaning of God's attributes can be most perfectly understood. God is not limited by a physical body, and so we cannot see Him directly or observe His personality. Hence our knowledge of the Manifestation is, in fact, the closest we can come to the knowledge of God.

Know thou of a certainty that the Unseen can in no wise incarnate His essence and reveal it unto men. He is, and hath ever been, immensely exalted beyond all that can either be recounted or perceived.... He Who is everlastingly hidden from the eyes of men can never be known except through His Manifestation, and His Manifestation can adduce no greater proof of the truth of His mission than the proof of His Own Person.6

And in another similar passage: god.jpg

The door of the knowledge of the Ancient Being [God] hath ever been, and will continue to be, closed in the face of men. No man's understanding shall ever gain access unto His holy court. As a token of His mercy, however, and as a proof of His loving-kindness, He hath manifested unto men the Day Stars of His divine guidance, the Symbols of His divine unity, and hath ordained the knowledge of these sanctified Beings to be identical with the knowledge of His own Self.7

Of course, only those who live during the time of a Manifestation have the opportunity of observing Him directly. It is for this reason, Bahá'u'lláh explained, that the essential connection between the individual and God is maintained through the writings and words of each Manifestation. For Bahá'ís, the word of the Manifestation is the Word of God, and it is to this Word that the individual can turn in his or her daily life in order to grow closer to God and to acquire a deeper knowledge of Him. The written Word of God is the instrument that creates a consciousness of God's presence in one's daily life:

Say: The first and foremost testimony establishing His truth is His own Self. Next to this testimony is His Revelation. For whoso faileth to recognize either the one or the other He hath established the words He hath revealed as proof of His reality and truth.... He hath endowed every soul with the capacity to recognize the signs of God.8

It is for this reason that the discipline of daily prayer, meditation, and study of the holy writings constitutes an important part of the individual spiritual practice of Bahá'ís. They feel that this discipline is one of the most important ways of growing closer to their Creator.

To summarize: the Bahá'í view of God is that His essence is eternally transcendent, but that His attributes and qualities are completely immanent in the Manifestations.9 Since our knowledge of anything is limited to our knowledge of the perceptible attributes of that thing, knowledge of the Manifestations is (for ordinary humans) equivalent to knowledge of God.10 In practical terms, this knowledge is gained through study, prayer, meditation, and practical application based on the revealed Word of God (i.e., the sacred scriptures of the Manifestations).

Adapted from William S. Hatcher and J. Douglas Martin, The Bahá'í Faith: The Emerging Global Religion (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985), pp. 74-75, 123-26.
Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, 2d rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1976), pp. 64-65.
Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, pp. 261-62.
`Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, 3d ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1981), pp. 220-21.
Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, pp. 177-79.
Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, p. 49.
Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, pp. 49-50.
Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, pp. 105-06.
In this connection, Bahá'ís regard Bahá'u'lláh as the "complete incarnation of the names and attributes of God." See Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh: Selected Letters, 2d rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1974), p. 112.
`Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 222.