Friday, March 31, 2006

On Becoming a Baha'i: Not Having to Give Up One's Roots

I clicked over to Google Blog Search and typed in "How I became a Baha'i" and then hit "Enter." The "Sort by date" top item, a blog posted "1 hour ago," is from Becky, who describes herself thusly: "Well, I'm a taxi driver, chef, drycleaner, housekeeper, accountant. Oh, better summed up, a mom! I love my boys (that includes the hubby) and wouldn't change a thing." Below is an excerpt from her entry. The kiddos pictured here look pretty happy with her decision, too.

Last sunday, I signed my card and became a Baha'i. For those that don't know or haven't heard of Baha'i's here's their website... Lately in my life, I've been lacking something, and I think the majority of the lack has been spirituality. While I've always believed in God, and for most of my life I've been a Christian, there was still something lacking. Dennis became a baha'i two years ago, and through him, I've researched and read a number of things, attended baha'i functions, and everything they're about (so far as i've learned) makes sense to me. One thing I love about the baha'i faith is that I don't have to give up my christian roots. Baha'i's believe in Jesus, and Muhammed, and all the manifestations of God that have come in the past. They just believe that Baha'u'llah is the next manifestation. And so do I. It's a very big change in my life, a very good one I think. I'm very happy with my decision.

"Super Busy Week," Becky's Nook, A Place to Unwind, MSN Spaces, March 31, 2006

On Encountering the Baha'i Faith: Seeking Refuge

Photo: Baha'i House of Worship, Kampala, Uganda
Here is an excerpt, but be sure to read the original post for the whole amazing story that was told by a man who had just watched "All the Invisible Children."

When he learned that I was a Baha'i, he became excited. He said that though he was not abducted and made a child soldier, there was a time, when he was a boy, that he was running away from soldiers to prevent being taken, or something like that. He sought refugee in the Baha'i House of Worship in Kampala (capital of Uganda). All of the different people that were accepted and welcomed into the House of Worship amazed him. He met Muslims, Christians, Baha'is, etc. The soldiers didn't go in the House of Worship because it was a holy place. The man was just a very young child when this happened, but the memory has stayed with him his whole life...

Shirin, "Why hate when it's all about peace and love?," MySpace, Wednesday, March 08, 2006

On Encountering Baha'is: Brief Blog Mentions

It is so interesting to me to note the many different ways the Baha'i Faith comes up in people's lives. One need only to jump into the personal/public world of blogs, blog search "Baha'i," and read away to gain a sense of how the Faith is introduced and how people respond in all its diversity. It's happening, folks, it's really happening. What Baha'u'llah said would happen, is happening.

I used multiple blog search engines to gather this collection of one-liners, mentions of the Baha'i Faith that occured over the last five months or so. To the best of my knowledge these bloggers are not Baha'is, or at least were not at the time they posted.

OK. You know the exercise. For the blog-source of the one-liner, click on it. Not that hard, really.

The customs guy laughed when we told him we'd visited Canada for a Jewish holiday (the new year), said he was Baha'i and had no idea about our holidays! Any laughing customs guy is a good sign, I figure.

Tonight we are going to a fireside at the Baha'i workshop. I'm intrigued.

The Baha'i Faith - Intelligent monotheism in a world that desperately needs it....Although I question their contention that they're the "second most widespread religion on earth", it should be, anyway.

Today we went to a ceremony honoring the (observed) birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. I was a little surprised to see so much Baha'i presence.

The great bulk of Baha'i teachings is concerned with social ethics; the faith has no priesthood and does not observe ritual forms in its worship....

My husband has been a Baha'i for several years, and although I looked into the Faith at first, it wasn't until recently that I began to feel a connection to it....I'm thinking about becoming a Baha'i....

Decided to check out what the other religions do on a Sunday, so tagged along with Karen to see what she does on Sundays with members of the Baha'i faith in this small town....

I am a Religious Humanist, with pantheistic beliefs, and shamanistic methods, who believes the religions who comes closest to getting it right are the Baha'i Faith and the Unitarian Universalists....

have to write a world religions research paper on Baha'i. It shouldnt be so bad....

I went home and eventually met up with Nani and went to a fireside, a Baha'i event....There was singing, and Warren (Nani's dad) talked about how he became Baha'i and about why the Baha'i's are so positive about the future. Zack mostly enjoyed himself too....I'm still not sure if I want to be Baha'i or not, but I'm thinking about it....

When I lived in a dorm, I used to have a card stuck to the wall that the Baha'i student group gave me.... [the card]

He was deeply religious and never faltered from the beliefs of the Baha'i Faith....

Which brings me to my curiousity about the Baha'i faith....My friend Lacey who knits and knew Anne first is a Baha'i. I am fascinated by other religions so I am looking into it....

Case in point, a friend of a work colleague is saying that Christianity was originally like the Baha'i faith....

Baha'i House of Worship, Wilmette, Illinois. We had never heard of the Baha'i before - it is an interesting faith.

Rainn Wilson, Dwight on "The Office", is married to a lady named Holiday. AWESOME. Also, he's a member of the Baha'i faith. Baha'i is my favorite of all the religions I don't belong to! (Really.)

We went up to Evanston this morning to see the Baha'i Temple. It is a pretty amazing structure....I had never heard of the religion of Baha'i (not sure I am spelling it correctly, either)...

Thanks to Zu who was down for the long haul, and for hooking me up with the Baha'i' proverb - beautiful stuff. Good looking out girl.

I gotta read about baha'i because I missed 2 days of comparative religion -.-

There's this religion called the Baha'i World Faith, a type of breakaway Islamic faith. I've been studying it for awhile but have yet to make any firm decisions.

we went to the beach this weekend to walk around... the water is beautiful. at night i went to the Bahai Temple to see its beauty close up... its amazing. i was told that the Bahai religion's belief is that all religions lead to the same God and is a branch of Islam, but i do not know much about it, but it was beautiful and huge.

Photo: eszter

... who knows what will happen when i get involved in Baha'i things, but whatever the end result, i know that i love you so much....

The cause of World Federalism does not rise and fall on the EU's petty national interests. I think I may study Baha'i. One God. One Religion. One People. Three interlocking unities....

I visited the Bosch Bahai School up in the Santa Cruz mountains. It was nice to get away for UCSC for a while, and at the school I enjoyed the scenery and had some great discussions about religion.

The meeting was informative too… Baha'i is a fascinating religion! I really need to learn more about them. i've seen their shrine in Haifa (the heads of the Baha'i club were jealous of me for that), and it's absurdly beautiful, especially at night.

She is fasting as a Baha'i. I am fasting both in support of her and for my own continually meandering spiritual path....

I have a conversation with some really chill baha'i folks....

... baha'i seeks to create a universal anxiliary language, it is a relatively new religion, i totally agree that humanity needs a new religion that fits our time better

I respect the Baha'i Faith immensely....Really, nearly every Baha'i I know represents everything that good Christians should represent, but rarely do....

i am not a fan of fasting, it seems contradictory to me. but i'm writing an ethnographic paper on baha'i, so i figured i may as well try it. maybe it'll uncover some deep-rooted psychological issue or reveal an abundance of religious truth to me.

Baha'i is becoming a fashionable religion among certain of Beijing's business and cultural elite, including some of the best-known real estate developers

She worked with Diana's Angels making clothes for babies who died. She was a member of the Baha'i faith.

Last night I went to a Naw-Ruz (Baha'i New Year) celebration in western Sydney with my Baha'i club friends. It was a bonkalicious good time culminating in an effervescent clown man and young aussie boy dressing up like chickens and b'cawing across a weirdly lit blue stage, shaking their feathered butts in unison all the while being accompanied by the eerie score of an aging keyboardist.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

On the Baha's in Iran: The Press Briefing of Scott McClellan on 03/28/06

QUESTION: Scott, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief has said that she's highly concerned that the government of Iran is about to increase its persecution of the 300,000 members of the Baha'i faith in that country. What is the President's message to the government of Iran on this issue?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, as you pointed out, she has expressed her concern that the situation with regard to religious minorities in Iran, the Baha'i, is, in fact, worsening. We share those concerns. We call on the regime in Iran to respect the religious freedom of all its minorities, and to ensure that these minorities are free to practice their religious beliefs without discrimination or fear. And we will continue to monitor the situation of the Baha'i -- the Baha'is in Iran very closely, and to speak out when their rights are denied.

QUESTION: What pressure would you urge, perhaps, other countries to put on Iran?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think we will talk with ambassadors of other countries in the region and raise this issue with them, and with their governments. We will continue to speak out and to raise this issue, the treatment of the Baha'is, in the United Nations and other organizations, and to ask all those who have any sort of influence in Tehran to continue to defend the rights of the Baha'i and other religious minorities.

Republican National Convention Blog NYC 2004

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

On Encountering the Baha'i Faith: A Pure, Peaceful Feeling

I know I said just yesterday that I am on hiatus from blogging. But, if you will read the excerpted posts below, you will see why I just couldn't resist. What a pure heart Jess has! Click here to read Jess' post previously excerpted on Baha'i Views.

I began reading the book, "The Baha'i Faith" yesterday. I just finished the first section of the book which describes the history of the religion. I am looking foward to the next section which will discuss Baha'i beliefs. I have found it all to be quite fascinating. It is very different from Chrisitianity yet there are many similarities. For instance, the arrival of Baha'u'llah (which means Glory of God) was predicted by a prophet of sorts, just as Jesus's arrival was predicted by prophets in the Old Testament. The early believers were terribly persecuted just as the early Christians were. Baha'u'llah was very confident that he was sent by God to deliver His divine message, just as Jesus proclaimed. The big difference is that Baha'u'llah never claimed that he was God as Jesus did. Though he did claim that he was the long awaited return of the Messiah who was sent to deliver the next stage of God's plan for mankind. And what a plan: To unite humanity into one cohesive group with no nationalites.

After such a short amount of reading I've been very impressed by what this man and his followers were able to accomplish in a relatively short amount of time. I wonder if the early Christian church was as successfully organized and as widespread in the first century of its existance as the Baha'i church was? I am also very impressed that the Baha'i religion is uniform and has not splintered into sects as has happened with all the other major religions in the world. Unity amongst practitioners is very remarkable.

I will admit that I find my new undertaking to explore religions other than Christianity a bit scary. I have even been a little nervous as I read this Baha'i book. Even though I have no real intentions of converting to a different religion I am afraid that my own personal beliefs may change to such an extent that I will have to abandon Christianity based on what I discover in my search. And for my entire life I have been taught that if you do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God then you will be damned to Hell for eternity. It isn't a very nice prospect, is it? I know in the depths of my soul that I do not believe that God would punish so many people in that way. I know it yet I still want to believe in the divinity of Jesus, because frankly, it is a very safe course of action. Who wants to risk their eternal life?! It almost seems to be a superstitious belief for me at this point. A safety net if you will. And yet I know that fear is a very shallow, pathetic reason to follow any religion. But, the bottom line is if you do not accept that Jesus was sent here to save mankind by being the ultimate sacrifice (God sacrificed Himself) then you aren't a Christian. That is the crux of the faith and it doesn't leave any room for a more liberal interpretation. And believing that is my struggle.

It has also been very easy for me to be a Christian because my family is. Plus, I am very comfortable with Christianity. I know the hymns and prayers, I can recite verses and I know all the apostles, I love celebrating the holy days and I love the peaceful sanctity in the sanctuary of a church. I can honestly say that I have had some very real experiences with God because of Christianity. God is a tangible presence in church and I can feel Him so strongly at times during services that I have wanted to cry because my emotions have been so engaged. But I like the idea that God is present in all religions. He must be to provoke such strong emotions and fervent beliefs in any specific doctrine by any practitioner of any faith in this world. As I said in a previous blog, I know Muslims, Jews, Catholics, Shiks, and a Hindu who are all very passionate about their faiths and have very real relationships with God because of their religion. There just has to be more to it than I have discovered. So, scared or not I will continue to make this journey.

Jess, "Fascinated," Rambles, Reviews and Rants, Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I have been continuing on with my study of the Baha'i faith and as I've read I have been filled with such a pure, peaceful feeling.

Bahai's believe in three basic principles:

1) The Oneness of God

Everyone in the world who feels the presence of God and fellowships with Him is worshipping the same God even though he is known by several different names including Jehovah, Yahweh, Allah or Brahma.

2) The Oneness of Humankind

Everyone in the world, regardless of ethnicity belongs to the human race. From the book, "The Baha'i Faith: The Emerging Global Religion", "Baha'i's believe that humankind has always constituted one species, but that prejudice, ignorance, power-seeking, and egotism have prevented many people from recognizing and accepting this oneness." (pg. 76)

3) The Oneness of Religion

Baha'i's accept all religions in the world as being valid. Baha'u'llah said, "These principles and laws, the firmly-established and mighty systems, have proceeded from one Source, and are the rays of one Light. That they differ from one another is to be attributed to the varying requirements of the ages in which they were promulgated." (pg. 82)

Baha'i's believe in progressive revelation through Manifestations. Moses, Jesus, Muhammad and most recently Baha'u'llah were all divine messengers of God. Interestingly, Jews don't believe Jesus was a divine messenger and Christians don't believe Muhammad was a divine messenger and now Muslims, Christians, and Jews all don't accept Baha'u'llah as a divine messenger.

Other neat beliefs of Baha'i's include, the equality of men and women, universal education, the unity of religion and science, and economic justice. (All taken from the The Baha'i Faith by William Hatcher).

Just thought I would blog about what I have learned thus far. Tomorrow I will probably be back with one of my daily life blogs and give the religious quest a rest.

Jess, "Oneness," Rambles, Reviews and Rants, Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

"When the most important work is at hand, let go the important work."

I believe Abdu'l-Baha said this--or at least I've been saying he said it for years. As I mentioned in a previous post, my community is engaged in its fourth Intensive Program of Growth.

What's IPG? It's two weeks of focused attention on reaching out and teaching souls that comes every three months in our cycle of growth as an A-Cluster. Two weeks out of every quarter, two months altogether out of every year. Regular as a heartbeat.

As I like to say, we've had "entry by troop" in previous cycles. Now we're aiming for "entry by troops."

This is a particularly thrilling time for Baha'i Views. There have been many confirmations, and I am grateful for all of the support. But for the rest of this Intensive Program of Growth I am going to put Baha'i Views on hold so I can try to do my part in my cluster.

There are people I need to call and e-mail. There are home-visits to set up. There are firesides to support and one my wife and I are hosting on Saturday to which several of my co-workers are invited to attend. There are teaching teams out and about. If the weather is warm, I may do some teaching from the park bench. And all of this on top of work responsibilties. So I'm going to put Baha'i Views on hold until April 10th.

If I were to post today, I know what I'd post about. I'd do an entry on Steven Fuqua's latest post on Conscientia, his blog described as "one node in the shared network of knowledge," the post entitled "Lessons on Baha'i-Christian Dialogue from a Muslim" -- what a remarkable fella Steven is, highly involved in the interfaith movement as a Baha'i.

If I were to post today, I'd wax poetic about the Baha'is group on Flickr and call the attention of my readers to the photos and images of the likes of Ryan, and Jay S B, where Sanisha's latest and greatest photos just in from China and Miss B's pilgrimage photos can be found. That's what I'd do.

If I were to post today, I would extol the virtues of the blogs of my wife and children--Bonita, Ruhiyyih, Tarazullah, and Rahmatullah, and Annie--and invite my readers to go check them out. That's what I'd do today if I were posting.

I'll be back atcha on the 10th. Keep the light on.

On Sanisha's Latest: From On High in China

I'm not blogging today, I'm not blogging today, I'm not...

Monday, March 27, 2006

On the Incredible Juxtaposition of Images: Thai Baha'i at the Baha'i World Center

Photo source:

This picture is not your typical World Center shot. It has a very "postmodern" feeling to it, in my view, and it's all in the juxtapostion of images. Thai Baha'i in the Holy Land. The gold hat matching up with with the gold dome of the Shrine of the Bab. The similarity of the smiles on the faces of the two Baha'is in the picture. I even like the imposing temporary speaker-stand rising to one side of the photo which ties this picture to the World Center opening celebration from a few years back. And, of course, in the foreground of the photo as a focal point our Thai Baha'i provides the classic Southeast Asian finger display, which I have seen in videos and live performances of Cambodian dancers, thanks to my friend Polin. This picture is like the Faith itself--it surprises you with "Can this really be?"

On Disaster Response: Good Press for Baha'i Red Cross Manager

Photo: Austrailian Red Cross Regional Manager Vahideh, a Baha'i

June/Pearlz left the following comment on one of my blog entries the other day and an entry on her own blog about Cylcone Larry:

Wow missed this blog and lots of stuff so much, had power off for a week as we had a cyclone in our area. We are all okay but the trees were ripped out and the place looks devestated. No loss of life and everyone's fine.Rang lots of friends this week, these things remind you of how important it is to always be spiritually and physically prepared.

The recent cyclone in Australia, Cyclone Larry, was apparently enormous and effected all people, Baha'is included, just as Katrina in the States had a devastating effect upon all. (The experience of the Baha'is in New Orleans was profiled in a recent Baha'i Newsreel video segment that was distributed for viewing at Feast here in the U.S.) I pray that Baha'is affected by these and any other disasters recover quickly.

There have been many news stories criticizing the response to Hurricane Katrina generally, and lately, many critical of managers with the Red Cross here. It is nice to note the positive story about a Red Cross manager in Australia who is a Baha'i that Mehran of Hullo World brings to the attention of his readers.

The northern part of my home state (Queensland) recently bore the torture of hurricane Larry. It has left entire cities without power, water or telephone lines, and a great number of people have lost their homes and possessions, not to mention, no doubt, health. Interestingly enough, I read an article today about the relief efforts published in "the Northern Star" which mentions the efforts of one amazing Baha'i.

Vahideh, the Lismore-based regional manager for the Red Cross, flew to far north Queensland yesterday to coordinate a team which will provide support, comfort, care and referral services.

Read the rest of his post and then, for laughs, read his previous post, "Serial Killer Encounter!"

Sunday, March 26, 2006

On Intensive Programmes of Growth: Raising Up Baby Baha'is in Kinshasa and at Home

The first picture is of the Area Teaching Committee of the Salman cluster in Kinshasa, a cluster which will launch an intensive programme of growth on the 19th of March.

The second picture was taken at the statistics training in the National Office in Kinshasa. With so many laptops around, this office had never looked more high-tech.

These pictures and taglines are included in a post by Maarten, one of the many Baha'is who work at the Baha'i World Center and who keep a blog as a way of keeping in touch with family and friends. For non-family blog-explorers, reading these blogs are a delightful way to gain a sense of what a special experience it is for Baha'is to be able to provide such service. Maarten writes in "Another Trip to Africa":

At the end of February, I went to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to facilitate a training for a number of Central African countries on a software program developed by the Department of Statistics at the World Centre. After the training I had the privilege of attending an institutional meeting in Kinshasa where friends from all over the Congo gathered to consult on the new Five Year Plan.

When I saw Maarten's photo of the Area Teaching Committee for Kinshasa cluster in the Congo, I thought of the dear souls serving on the ATC in my own cluster here on the other side of the world, where we are beginning our fourth Intensive Program of Growth. We had our Cluster Reflection Meeting today for its launch. What a privilege it is to be alive in this day and have the bounty of attempting to contribute to the growth of the Faith!

I am aware that the blogging experience can never replace the face-to-face teaching experience that confirms souls and builds community, and so I will gladly put aside my blogging at such times. Pray for our cluster as we strive to raise up baby Baha'is.

Speaking of baby Baha'is--the other kind of baby Baha'is--there is another picture on Maarten's blog that is just too cute for words. That's Maarten and daughter on the left.

On New Baha'i Blogs: Hope in Poland

Yesterday the blog title was The Emerging Global Religion. Today it's The Formative Age. Such is the tinkering we do on our blogs. Hope, a Poland-based blogger, is the tinkerer, her Baha'i identity apparent in both titles. Here are the very first two posts from Hope's other blog Madness in Paradise.

Wanna learn more about Bahá'í Administration? About the Bahá'í Faith and about the very meaning of life? Come to the Polish Bahá'í Summer School. This year we invite you to Białobrzegi near Warsaw from the 21 - 26 July. We guarantee loads of program (will be uploaded soon), lots of freetime, a beachparty, great people and lots of fun.
A day during the FAST. Kushtar is bringing friends over. All hungry, shattered, sleepy. Kushtar alive and happy. Had I known there are pictures going to be taken, I would have dressed up, put on make-up and impressed everyone. But as it came as a surprise, I had no chance to do any of these and ended up looking like I had just found my way out of bed. Terrible thing to do to a woman!

On the End of the 20th Century: Who Is Writing the Future?

Hope's new blog The Formative Age brought to my attention that the upcoming 30th Annual Conference of the Association for Bahá’í Studies–North America will focus on "the examination of four documents that address the evolution of spiritual civilization and the true nature of human reality: The Secret of Divine Civilization, Who Is Writing the Future?, Century of Light, and One Common Faith." Sanisha of Log @ this...look at this plans to read Who Is Writing the Future? during her current trip to China. Here is an excerpt from that document, prepared by the Office of Public Information of the International Baha'i Community and released in 1999.

There is nothing in Bahá'u'lláh's writings to encourage the illusion that the changes envisioned will come about easily. Far otherwise. As the events of the twentieth century have already demonstrated, patterns of habit and attitude which have taken root over thousands of years are not abandoned either spontaneously or in response simply to education or legislative action. Whether in the life of the individual or that of society, profound change occurs more often than not in response to intense suffering and to unendurable difficulties that can be overcome in no other way. Just so great a testing experience, Bahá'u'lláh warned, is needed to weld the earth's diverse peoples into a single people.

Spiritual and materialistic conceptions of the nature of reality are irreconcilable with one another and lead in opposite directions. As a new century opens, the course set by the second of these two opposing views has already carried a hapless humanity far beyond the outermost point where an illusion of rationality, let alone of human well-being, could once be sustained. With every passing day, the signs multiply that great numbers of people everywhere are awakening to this realization.

Bahá'í International Community's Office of Public Information, "Who Is Writing the Future?"

Who Is Writing the Future? is also the title to a music CD by Jack Lenz, the cover to which is pictured above. You can hear a portion of the title song by clicking here.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

On the Baha'i Fundraiser in Shayda's Basement: There Are Thousands of Shaydas

Image courtesy of Hariri Pontarini Architects: The Baha'i Temple in Santiago, Chile, was designed using the new CATIA-based intelligent modeling application developed by Gehry Technologies--The CADALYST E-Mail Newsletter

I don't know what CATIA-based intelligent modeling is. I do know that a remarkable Baha'i house of worship is going to be built in Chile, South America being the only continent without one, and the construction of it will employ the latest in technologies. According to Shayda's MySpace posting there is going to be a party in her basement next month where Baha'is will have the privilege of contributing to cover the cost of the temple's construction. If you know Shayda, you are lucky, because you and your friends are invited to attend.

2nd Annual Young Adult Baha'i Fundraiser!!! ie: Party in Shayda's Basement Current mood: chipper. Category: Parties and Nightlife. ANNOUNCING: April 29, 2006, The South American Soul Train!! 2nd Annual Young Adult Fundraiser This Year for the Chilean Temple!!! Come Dance the night away to the music of DJ Sean "G Diddy" (aka SGD) on the Soul Train as we raise funds for the Mother Temple of South America! Logistics:Cost for Baha'is: $15 @ the door -all proceeds will go to the Chilean Temple Fund. If you're not Baha'i there is no charge. Place: Shayda's Basement. Contact for further info on address and directions email Shayda.


Photo: Shayda and her Mom

Who is Shayda, really? I would like to say there are thousands of Shaydas on MySpace, Blogger, MSN Spaces, and Typepad, devoted and youthful Baha'is, with their lives ahead of them and their priorities straight. Who is Shayda? Read her "About Me":

My fundamental core is my spirituality: the prime mover of my life force.

The Baha'i Faith is a new independent World Relgion; the founding core is belief in Oneness: The Oneness of God, the Oneness of Religion, the Oneness of Humanity. As a Baha'i, I accept that Baha'u'llah, the Divine Founder of the Baha'i Faith, is the Promised Messanger of God, prophesized by all world relgions. I believe in all of the past Manifestations of God, including, but not limited to, Muhammad, Jesus Christ, Buddah, Zoraster, Moses, Adam. I believe that Each came for different stages of humanity and progressively revealed God's Message and Teachings according to the exingencies of the time and the capacity of the people. But as you may have a 2nd grade teacher and a different teacher for 3rd grade, the learning is continually built upon, and it is one school. Therefore, I accept that God's Messengers are our teachers and continually shower Their bounties upon humanity.

Much of my free time and activities are centered around the Faith. I always leave these activities and gatherings spiritually refreshed, reinvigorated, and honestly - happy.

One of the things that I am most grateful for in my life are my friends. Before I became an active Baha'i, I found it very difficult to make friends, true sincere friends. I used to pray to God for friends, I was incredibly lonely, as I have a very social nature. Since I began involvement in the D.C. area young adult Baha'i community, I have had the bounty of making many many friends...people that I admire, people that I love, and people that I may truly call my friends. The Baha'is are the most amazing group of happy, supportive and caring people that I have ever met on a large scale. I am so thankful for each and every one of them. I have also been blessed with some very long standing friends, who have been by my side through better and worse, and very worse!

Another aspect of having wonderful friends, is not only the caring support, but the joy they have brought into my life. In my whole life, I don't think I have laughed as much as I have in the past two years. Having fun is also important, and I have to say, I have never had as much fun in my life. I've done the whole crazy downtown scene, in attempts to have fun, and sometimes it is, but I think it was more of a diversion and social outlet for me than really having fun. Laughing and being able to be myself is fun for me, and I love it.

Shayda, "About Me," MySpace

Friday, March 24, 2006

On Baha'i Holy Places: Bahji

Photo: A corner of the Baha'i gardens at Bahji looking like a French impressionist painting, from mensabarbie

On Shoghi Effendi: The Power and Beauty of His Writings

V's current post on Anxiously Concerned, an excerpt from a letter by Shoghi Effendi, reminded me of the power and beauty of his writings once again. The Baha'i literature is so rich. So much to read, the primary texts, the commentaries, the volumes upon volumes of books sold through the Baha'i Distribution Service . I have dearly loved the texts written by the Universal House of Justice, such as One Common Faith, which I have studied judiciously this winter. Of late it has been the Baha'i blogs that have infatuated me. Such passionate prose in this online out-pouring. But for me it all started with Shoghi Effendi. Reading from his collection of letters, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, during a class at the Youth for One World Seminar held in Wilmette and Evanston, Illinois, during that magical week during the summer of 1969 brought me to life as a Baha'i. Thank you, Shoghi Effendi.

Leaders of religion, exponents of political theories, governors of human institutions, who at present are witnessing with perplexity and dismay the bankruptcy of their ideas, and the disintegration of their handiwork, would do well to turn their gaze to the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, and to meditate upon the World Order which, lying enshrined in His teachings, is slowly and imperceptibly rising amid the welter and chaos of present-day civilization. They need have no doubt or anxiety regarding the nature, the origin or validity of the institutions which the adherents of the Faith are building up throughout the world. For these lie embedded in the teachings themselves, unadulterated and unobscured by unwarrantable inferences, or unauthorized interpretations of His Word.

How pressing and sacred the responsibility that now weighs upon those who are already acquainted with these teachings! How glorious the task of those who are called upon to vindicate their truth, and demonstrate their practicability to an unbelieving world! Nothing short of an immovable conviction in their divine origin, and their uniqueness in the annals of religion; nothing short of an unwavering purpose to execute and apply them to the administrative machinery of the Cause, can be sufficient to establish their reality, and insure their success. How vast is the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh! How great the magnitude of His blessings showered upon humanity in this day! And yet, how poor, how inadequate our conception of their significance and glory! This generation stands too close to so colossal a Revelation to appreciate, in their full measure, the infinite possibilities of His Faith, the unprecedented character of His Cause, and the mysterious dispensations of His Providence.

Shoghi Effendi, "A Living Organism," The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 24.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

On Spiritual Search: The Never-Ending Continuum

The Baha'i core activities of study circles, devotional meetings and children's classes, which are open to all, Baha'i and not, provide wonderful support for the process of personal spiritual discovery. Each one of us is on our own spiritual path but we have each other to guide and inspire us along the way. For the November 2005 BWNS story on how a devotional meeting in New York supported the process of spiritual discovery among its attendees, click here.

Because free will is an inherent endowment of the soul, each person who is drawn to explore Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings will need to find his own place in the never-ending continuum of spiritual search. He will need to determine, in the privacy of his own conscience and without pressure, the spiritual responsibility this discovery entails. In order to exercise this autonomy intelligently, however, he must gain both a perspective on the processes of change in which he, like the rest of the earth’s population, is caught up and a clear understanding of the implications for his own life.

The Universal House of Justice, One Common Faith, paragraph 67

On Naw-Ruz: It's Nice to See My Baha'i Peeps

Photo: Centre national bahá’í à Paris

Melimeli's at it again with a description of the performances at the Naw-Ruz celebration in Paris that is so vivid, you feel like you can see and hear them.

lovely france: Monday was Naw Ruz, and the celebration at the Baha'i Centre was just wonderful. So so lovely. Lots of songs in camerounese (? they said, camerounien. from Cameroun), in a nigerian language, in persian and french. At the end, a slam poetry performance in English. And a concert at the end by Mussia, a band that one local Baha'i, Charles, is in, and it was so beatiful: a combo of Charles on the guitar and vocals (he's the Camerounian), a white Francais man on the saxophone, and two African guys on drums and percussion. One was a big guy and he did the harmonies with Charles in this high, sweet voice, and he kept on smiling while drumming and looking so happy. He sang this beautiful, beautiful song, in I don't know what language, but he told us the words later, about why do people fight each other and hate each other. And a beautiful little Baha'i youth band, one member of which did the oddest, most creative, and truly weirdly brave interpretative dance to the music of Charles' band. It was not a performance anyone knew would take place, but the big guy on the drums was very, very amused, and we had a little percussion interlude that I think was to fully showcase this dancing. At the end of the performance, the big guy thanked Mathieu, the dancer: "He is not like other people, definitely a special person." :) It was nice to see my Baha'i peeps after being so busy and not seeing them for a long while. And the music, the music, there is something so healing in it, it was the greatest way to start the new year.

melimeli, March 22nd, 2006, 02:44 pm, Live Journal

P.S. One more Naw-Ruz item, if you please. In this blurb, it's not who you see, but who you don't see that's nice--your teacher. You don't have to practice your music because your music teacher practices Baha'i.

Its the first day of Spring and i have been given a wonderful gift. Thats right. By a series of FORTUNATE events- I dont have class till one. And even that doesnt count as a class. Its my lesson. And then I just have quartet rehersal today. My first class was cancelled a week ago and then last night my aural teacher cancelled class because she practices baha'i and its a religious holiday. So she's taking it off.

musicnote137, "March 21st Goodness," Live Journal

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

On Exploring World Religions: Being Attracted to the Baha'i Faith

Jess' post "When God Made Me" on her blog Rambles, Reviews and Rants is a lovely expression of the questions that come up for this young working married mother of two as she encounters religious diversity among her co-workers in the workplace. It is having children that bring so many adults to ask ultimate questions. Parents ask, what spiritual foundation can I give to my child that will make sense in light of the conditions of the world today? The entire text of this remarkable post is great reading, including the author's inclusion of the lyrics of a religiously provocative song by Neil Young entitled "When God Made Me," hence the title of her post.

I was raised a Protestant Christian. I have embraced my faith and at times in my life been very passionate about it. Interestingly, the older I get the more I am moving away from truly believing in the doctrine of the Christian faith. I just cannot accept that the majority of the world is going to suffer in Hell for enternity because they do not "know" Jesus or believe He is the Son of God. Why would God have taken the time to create such an intricate world and to give life to so many humans and creatures just to let their souls be damned? It seems too cruel and too simplistic to me. There are so many paths to all the great aspects of humanity that I believe God gave to us in His image for there to only be one path to God. How many ways are there to love in this world, be happy, find success, celebrate life and faith? Countless, countless ways. So, there must be countless ways to find God and hold Him in your heart. ...

I have begun to wonder if all the world religions were presented to me and I had no prior knowledge of any of them with no emotional ties to my own faith, which would I choose? I honestly think I would be most attracted to the Baha'i faith. It is such a wonderful peaceful faith. ...

Jess, "When God Made Me," Rambles, Reviews and Rants

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

On Blogs: Naw-Ruz Baha'i Citings

Photo: Mona Mahmudnizhad, 17, was one of ten Bahá'í women executed by the Iranian Government in Shiraz on 18 June 1983. Mona's only crime was her steadfast belief in Bahá'u'lláh.

Tula of American Indians-R-Real has "A Mystical Day" on Naw-Ruz.

Today is a mystical kind of day for me...on this day - many years ago I gave birth to my next to youngest daughter and bade farewell to my youngest son Jimmy. He had been born nearly two years earlier with an inoperable congenital heart defect and had been expected to be with us for only six months. He blessed our lives for 22 months before he passed from this world 2 1/2 hours after his sister was born. What a sad time that was for all of us - mixed with the blessing of a new lovely child entering our lives.

For many years the pain of my loss of this precious child nearly overwhelmed me at times, especially around the anniversary of his death and Lora's birth. I finally found some ease with words in the Baha'i Writings which advise those who grieve that the pain we feel is shared by those who have passed on and in turn cause them sorrow...I still cry, mourning the loss of my son but am able to not dwell on it so he won't be affected by my mourning in the world of the Spirit.

So today I am thanking Creator for the gift of my lovely daughter who has become a registered nurse, wife and mother and a good woman.

Ironically, each of our children's birthdays is an ongoing gift from Kijimaneto to us.

May this day bring each of you peace and love.

Tula, "A Mystical Day for Me," American Indians-R-Real

Appreciate premiere Baha'i essayist John Taylor's marvelous prose on Badi Blog.

Today for Naw-Ruz, let us talk about spirit and how it relates to the principle of One God.

Andrew writes of his day on My Space. See his after pics--after breakfast, that is.

Enjoying the day I took off from work to enjoy Naw-Ruz and get some other happiness down, I thought I might bode well to get some breakfast.

Heather of A Season for Everything has a fresh tale to tell of this day that, thanks to her kind invitation, culminated in joy and fellowship

....[T]he father called back. He'd sat down and talked with his boys. They decided that it would be much better to enjoy their holy day. They decided not to send the boys to school. Instead they are coming to our house for a visit, stay for lunch—that very joy and fellowship stuff I was lamenting the loss of. Happy day.

I love this picture, Naw-Ruz collage, by jay s b, who reminded me of the biblical reference that we must be as children to get into the kingdom of heaven.

....dancing kids celebrate...Baha'i New Year, Persian New Year, also the first day of Spring... last night at the Dell Jewish Community Center (Northwest Austin).

Blogger aMy from Malaysia on Catch Me Flying, who "always dreamt to be a photojournalist, someone who travels n write beautiful words, always prayed to be eloquent in my speech, someone who speaks the language of the hearts--maybe it's still far to be realized--at least i'm trying," is:

...celebrating Naw-Ruz with my new Philippino friends, exciting-nya!!

Read the 14 posts of congratulations on the birth of Mona as posted on jO space. (I began "Naw-Ruz Baha'i Citings" with an excerpt about a baby born and I end it with an excerpt about a baby born.) Here is one of those congratulatory entries:

Once upon a time.....There was the child, Mona, ready to be born.

And so one day she asked God, "They tell me you are sending me to earth tomorrow. But how am I going to live there, being so small and helpless?"

"Among the many angels, I chose one for you. She will be waiting for you and will take care of you."

"But tell me, here in Heaven I don't do anything else but sing and smile. That's enough for me to be happy."

"Your angel will sing for you and will also smile for you every day, and you will feel you angel's love and be happy."

"And how am I going to be able to understand when people talk to me, if I don't know the language that men talk?"

"Your angel will tell you the most beautiful and sweet words you will ever hear and, with much patience and care, your angel will teach you how to speak."

"What am I going to do when I want to speak with you?"

"Your angel will place your hands together and teach you how to pray."

"I've heard that on earth there are bad men. Who will protect me?"

"Your angel will defend you even if it means risking its life."

"But I will always be sad because I will not see you anymore."

"Your angel will always talk to you about me and will teach you the way for you to come back to me, even though I will always be next to you."

At that moment there was much peace in Heaven, but voices from earth could already b heard, and Mona, in a hurry, softly asked: "Oh, God, if I am about to leave you now, please tell me my angels name?"

"Your angel's name is of no importance. You will call your angel


O God! Rear this little babe in the bosom of Thy love, and give it milk from th breast of Thy Providence. Cultivate this fresh plant in the rose garden of Thy love and aid it to grow through the showers of Thy bounty. Make it a child of the kingdom, and lead it to Thy heavenly realm. Thou art powerful and kind, an Thou art the Bestower, the Generous, the Lord of surpassing bounty.

....sent with many good wishes for health and happiness, peace and love,

Mame, "Greetings from Auntie Mame," jO space

On Religious Freedom: UN Religious Freedom Official Expresses Fears for Baha'is in Iran

On this day of Naw Ruz, one of the nine holy days of the Baha'i year, I wish to call attention to this distressing report regarding the Baha'is in Iran. Share this news with others. Today, during your prayers, keep in mind the the Baha'i friends who reside in the land of Baha'u'llah's birth.

United Nations, 20 March 2006 (BWNS) -- Representatives of the Baha'i International Community reacted with alarm today to a United Nations official's statement about actions of the Iranian government against the Baha'is in Iran.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Asma Jahangir, stated that she was highly concerned and expressed her apprehensions in a press release posted today about "a confidential letter sent on 29 October 2005 by the Chairman of the Command Headquarters of the Armed Forces in Iran to a number of governmental agencies."

"The letter," she said, "which is addressed to the Ministry of Information, the Revolutionary Guard and the Police Force, states that the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, had instructed the Command Headquarters to identify persons who adhere to the Baha'i faith and monitor their activities. The letter goes on to request the recipients to, in a highly confidential manner, collect any and all information about members of the Baha'i faith."

"We are grateful that Ms. Jahangir has brought this activity to light," said Bani Dugal, the Baha'i International Community's principal representative to the UN. "We share her concern for the welfare of the Baha'is and shudder to think what this might mean. Because of the unprecedented character of the government's action, we are addressing a request to the Ambassador of Iran for an explanation."

Ms. Jahangir also "considers that such monitoring constitutes an impermissible and unacceptable interference with the rights of members of religious minorities."

"The Special Rapporteur's concern that such information could be 'used as a basis for the increased persecution of, and discrimination against, members of the Baha'i faith' is clearly well-founded," said Ms. Dugal.

Such actions come in the wake of mounting media attacks on the Baha'is, the nature of which in the past have preceded government-led assaults on the Baha'is in Iran. "Kayhan," the official Tehran daily newspaper has carried more than 30 articles about the Baha'is and their religion in recent weeks, all defamatory in ways that are meant to create provocation. Radio and television programs have joined in as well with broadcasts condemning the Baha'is and their beliefs. In addition, the rise in influence in Iranian governmental circles of the Anti-Baha'i Society, Hojjatieh, an organization committed to the destruction of the Baha'i Faith, can only heighten the fears for that beleaguered community.

"We well know what hateful propaganda can lead to; recent history offers too many examples of its horrific consequences. We make an urgent appeal to all nations and peoples on behalf of our Iranian coreligionists that they not allow a peace-loving, law-abiding people to face the extremes to which blind hate can lead," said Ms. Dugal. "The ghastly deeds that grew out of similar circumstances in the past should not now be allowed to happen. Not again."

Statement by Bani Dugal, Principal Representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations, in the wake of the announcement of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief concerning treatment of followers of the Baha'i Faith in Iran.

20 March 2006, New York City

The statement of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief about recent actions taken by the Government of Iran concerning the Baha'is arouses grave apprehension in the Baha?i International Community about their fate. The Baha'is have been the victims of an unrelenting persecution ever since the revolution of 1979, and one hesitates to think of what horrors could be implied by the combined effort of intelligence, military and police agencies to identify Baha'is and monitor their activities, as has been ordered by the Chairman of the Command Headquarters of the Armed Forces at the direction of the Head of State. We are dreadfully afraid for the lives of our fellow Baha'is in Iran.

Because of the unprecedented character of the Government's action, we are addressing a request to the Ambassador of Iran for an explanation.

Such actions come in the midst of mounting media attacks on the Baha'is, the nature of which in the past have preceded government-led assaults on them. "Kayhan," the official Tehran daily newspaper, has carried more than 30 articles about the Baha'is and their religion in recent weeks, all defamatory in ways that are meant to create provocation. Radio and television programs have joined in as well with broadcasts condemning the Baha'is and their beliefs.

We know what hateful propaganda can lead to; recent history offers too many examples of its horrific consequences. We make an urgent plea to all nations and peoples on behalf of our Iranian coreligionists that they not allow a peace-loving, law-abiding people to face the extremes to which blind hate can lead. The ghastly deeds that grew out of similar circumstances in the past should not now be allowed to happen. Not again.

Background: Recent media attacks on the Baha'is in Iran

In recent months, Iranian newspapers and radio stations have been conducting an intensive anti-Baha'i campaign. From September through November 2005 alone, the influential, state-run Kayhan newspaper ran nearly three dozen articles defaming the Baha'i Faith with the clear intention of arousing in readers feelings of suspicion, distrust and hatred for the Iranian Baha'i community. The articles engage in a deliberate distortion of history, make use of fake historical documents, and falsely describe Baha'i moral principles in a manner that would be offensive to Muslims.

Before the onset of previous government campaigns of persecution against Baha'is, such as in 1955 and 1979, similarly defamatory articles and radio programs were run against the Baha'is, stirring up animosity and prejudice, apparently to prepare the public for what was to come.For more information, including copies of the Kayhan articles in Persian and summaries in English, please
click here.

The Anti-Baha'i Hojjatieh Society

Founded in 1953 as a specifically anti-Baha'i organization by a charismatic Shiite Muslim cleric, the Hojjatieh Society has today re-emerged in Iran as an influential if secretive faction that has been linked in news articles and web blogs with the current Iranian administration.

During the 1979 Iranian revolution, the Society played an important role in stirring animosity against Baha'is. However, in part because of differences in theology - among other things the Hojjatieh believe a truly Islamic state cannot be established until the return of the 12th Imam - the Society fell into disfavor and was banned by the regime in 1984.

Outside observers have connected the Society's re-emergence with the return of hardliners to positions of power in the government, including the president who has frequently stated his expectation that the 12th Imam will return soon.

For more information on the Hojjatieh, please
click here.

Baha'i World News Service

Monday, March 20, 2006

On Meeting Prince Charles: Being Disembodied as a Good Baha'i Should

Photo: The Commonwealth Day Observance Service at Westminster Abbey

Barney at Barnabas Quotidianus has the most fascinating stories to tell about attending the recent Commonwealth Day at Westminster Abbey. Say what did the Prince say? Read "Shaking Hands with Prince Charles and Camilla." Then read the accompanying post which provides background on the event. Barney is on a roll.

I saw where the Prince was and went and placed myself firmly just behind the line of people who were being presented to him. As he finished a conversation he caught my eye. The other Commonwealth DSG [Deputy Secretary General], who was accompanying him, couldn’t present me, since he hadn’t had time to find out who I was. So I acted against protocol (the Queen is very firm about the not-speaking-until-you-are-spoken-to rule - and I’d managed to upset her by doing this one Commonwealth Day some years ago) and said, ‘I’m from the Baha’i community, sir.’

He smiled and said, ‘Were you at the service?’

‘I was the Baha’i reader,’ I told him.

‘I couldn’t see you.’

‘I was in the middle of the Nave, sir.’

‘You were disembodied,’ the Prince said, preparing to move on. And as he prepared to shake hands with the next person, he half turned his head, smiled, and said, ‘Just as a good Baha’i should be.’

John Barnabas (aka Barney) Leith, Barnabas quotidianus

Sunday, March 19, 2006

On Zoroastrian Prophecy: Baha'u'llah as the Shah-Bahram

Photo: Women jump over a raging fire to celebrate an ancient festival called Charshanbeh Suri on the eve of the last Wednesday of the Iranian calender or solar year, Tuesday March 13, 2001. The fire festival is believed to date back to 1725 B.C. when Zoroastrianism was the predominant religion of ancient Persia and has survived numerous generations and governments. (

As has been noted in the recent post on the Baha'i holy day of Naw-Ruz, the Iranian first-day-of-Spring celebration of Norouz has its roots in Zoroastrianism. In Baha'i history there were a number of notable converts from among the Zoroastrian minority of Iran, including Mulla Bahram, stories about which are included in Gloria Faizi's book, Fire on the Mountaintop, a favorite of mine as I used to read from it to my children when they were young. Immediately below is an excerpt from Shoghi Effendi refering to Baha'u'llah as coming in fullfillment of Zoroastrian prophecy. There is more on the subject at the Prophecy Fulfilled website.

To the priestly caste, holding sacerdotal supremacy over the followers of the Faith of Zoroaster, that same Voice, identifying itself with the voice of the promised Sháh-Bahrám, has declared: “O high priests! Ears have been given you that they may hearken unto the mystery of Him Who is the Self-Dependent, and eyes that they may behold Him. Wherefore flee ye? The Incomparable Friend is manifest. He speaketh that wherein lieth salvation. Were ye, O high priests, to discover the perfume of the rose garden of understanding, ye would seek none other but Him, and would recognize, in His new vesture, the All-Wise and Peerless One, and would turn your eyes from the world and all who seek it, and would arise to help Him.” “Whatsoever hath been announced in the Books,” Bahá’u’lláh, replying to a Zoroastrian who had inquired regarding the promised Sháh-Bahrám, has written, “hath been revealed and made clear. From every direction the signs have been manifested. The Omnipotent One is calling, in this Day, and announcing the appearance of the Supreme Heaven."

Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day Is Come, p. 77.

On New Baha'i Blogs: Introducing The Neocrats

Photo: Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Africa

"Bahai friends of mine have started a blog that is highly interactive and great fun," "rr" said. "Its called I think your readers would enjoy taking a peek. Could you please share the news?" Having had a look-see for myself, I am delighted to pass on the news.

The Neocrats has an absolutely intriguing three-column format. We are used to two-column--one for blog text and one for links. On this blog there is a third column in the middle called "extras", and this is were the team of Saleem, Mogogo, Sarmad, and Oscar de Clavier hang out with their discourse about the blog. These guys are not roommates; they're world-mates, residing in Ulster, Boston, London, The Hague, and Ouagadougou. They invite writers to step up and participate as they will in response to the various themes introduced, "Lessons from starvation" and "Spring" being two so far. The Neocrats is, as "rr" put it, "highly interactive." In a word, it is a smorgasblog. The first posting occured on March 5th, 2006, so count The Neocrats as another blog that started during the fast. Here is a sample post on just that subject:

Fasting is revolutionary: it can change everything, or nothing.

Fasting is tricky, it’s a subversive activity. When you start, suddenly you’re no longer the government of your self, you’re the general of the guerilla separatists, running through the jungle in a loincloth with your ardent soldiers deployed around you; you’re diving into the tunnels; you’re fighting against the godless Huns.

It’s an insurgency against several impulses, of which eating and drinking are only the most obvious. But there are better ones, and you get into tangled situations: if I’m talking to a girl because I find her attractive, have I broken my fast? This is when you are dealing with the infiltrators. Possibly the girl is a bright soul, and speaking with her is to embrace a comrade in the rebellion. But she might be a government agent, sent to seduce and corrode. The fast is a dark game of confusion, because fasting has nothing to do with not eating and not drinking.

I love the fast, even if I hate not eating, and not drinking. The most insubstantial element of the fast, the most meaningless - no food, no water - is the one that conflicts and distracts the most, that draws us alluringly away from something else. Your daily life is altered physically, mentally: but it might be for nothing, you might forget the spirit, and any historian can tell you that this is the pattern of all revolutions.

Viva la fast, we scream, as we stuff hamburgers down mouths.

Saleem, " Lessons from Starvation: Number Five," The Neocrats