Sunday, June 24, 2007

On Achieving Peace: Looking Beyond Religious Divisions

Tess touches on a theme that can be found in many places in the Baha'i literature, the importance of not only tolerance, but understanding, of different religious traditions. -gw

It can be difficult sometimes to identify what is going on with all the different world religions and their sub-divisions. For example as a ‘cradle Catholic’, I have limited exposure to some other Christian denominations, and none at all to some other faiths such as Baha’i and Shinto.

If we are to hope for any kind of peace in our world, we must try to understand others, what they believe in, how they live and die.

Tess, "Comparative religions and ethical issues," Anchors and masts: Exploring spirituality, friendship and community

Image: Tess' blog masthead background

Friday, June 22, 2007

On the Goodness of Life: I was missing the Baha'i things

Is good right now.
I realized what I'm missing.
I was missing the Baha'i things.
Tara, "Life," Falling Gold Stars: Hopes and Dreams falling from the sky...

On Demon Days: Turn Don't Burn

Music is everywhere. So is guidance. -gw

When lies become reality
You numb yourself with drugs and T.V
Lift yourself up
It's a brand new day
So turn yourself round
Don't burn yourself, turn yourself
Turn yourself around into the sun!

On Missing Bill: If you ever travel to Haifa, you will find his name there

A nephew, a Baha'i, extoles his uncle. -gw
Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Passing of William R. Cook
Current mood: melancholy
Category: Music
Word arrived today that Uncle Bill passed on to the next world over the past weekend.
If you went to school in Baltimore between the sixties and the eighties, you might have known him as a music teacher or director of music for the Baltimore school district.
If you attended a concert of the Baltimore symphony between the sixties and the eighties that featured lute, you might have seen him performing. He was one of the few classically trained lute-players in the United States, and built his own lute while studying with the world master.
If you purchased a concert-quality mute for your brass instrument between the seventies and the nineties, there is a good chance it was manufactured by his company, which was started in his basement and eventually produced mutes for symphonies worldwide.
If you had an orchestral instrument repaired in the eighties or nineties in Baltimore, there is a chance that he made the repairs. His work was in such demand that he had to get an unlisted number for his workshop, and the only way to find him was by referral.
He was the my dad's younger brother and the second of three sons of my grandmother. When she turned 65 she made a deal with him that if he took care of her for the rest of her life, she would give him her house in return. He upheld his part of the bargain, caring for her even into her mid-nineties, when she could not even remember who he was.
Other than my dad, he is the first man I have memories of. He taught me to play chess when I was four, gave me a recorder when I was six and a silver trumpet when I was in third grade, introduced me to shortwave radio, showed me how to snap peas and boil crabs. He had the style of a southern gentleman, speaking with a baritone Baltimore drawl, slowly and distinctly as if he were considering very carefully everything he wanted to say, and was concerned that you understand and appreciate every word. I cannot recall him ever saying anything that was unkind, nor anything that lacked insight.
He was intensely interested in our family heritage, and traced the Koch (Cook) family back into the seventeen-hundreds, traveling several times to Europe to dig through church bibles for records of baptisms and marriages. He prepared a family tree of several hundred pages listing the descendants of Heinrich Baltazar Koch, my great-great-great-great-grandfather, who was the first of his family to immigrate to the United States in the 1840's. Uncle Bill sponsored several family reunions where all of these hundreds of family members could gather in Edinburg, VA, where Heinrich had settled.
Sadly, Uncle Bill's first marriage failed, and in the failure, he lost all contact with his only daughter. It was ironic then that he should finally pass away on Father's Day weekend. For my part, I loved him as much as I did my father, and when my dad passed away, treasured his company on the few family gatherings that brought us together from distant corners of the U.S. He was like a second father to my brothers and sisters as well.
One of the last times we were together, on the occasion of the passing of my brother-in-law, I showed him a new classical guitar that I had purchased, and asked if he would like to try it out. He struggled for a minute with his arthritic hands to call forth a few notes from a medieval piece, then shook his head saying that his performing days were over and lamented that the guitar was his "first" instrument. Still his craftsman's eye examined every inch of the instrument and he remarked on the subtle excellence of the guitar's construction.
If you should ever possess a copy of the Maui Ruhi Songs CD (google is your friend), you can look in the CD booklet under "Credits", the first name you will encounter is William R. Cook, my Uncle Bill.
If you ever travel to the Baha'i World Center in Haifa, Israel and look in the library there, you will find a couple of copies of that CD with his name in them.
Rest in peace, dear Uncle Bill. I will miss you.
Top to bottom, photos from flickr:
lute, uploaded on May 23, 2006 by SoLoInsano
mute, ploaded on
November 9, 2005 by Eggybird
old bible, uploaded on August 7, 2006 by cre8tivefriends
Picture of Richard

On Gibran and the Baha'i Faith: New Information?

I'm going to bring forward two comments from Montana Don regarding the recent post "On Gibran and the Baha'i Faith: Connection Noted". -gw

Today Montana Don said...
After leaving my comment, I contacted several scholars/historians, and they agreed with my assessment. One also pointed to a column in

which discusses parts of this issue. Another pointed out that this collection includes materials that Baha'is have not had access to, and perhaps there are notes in his notebooks that do point to Baha'u'llah as partial inspiration for The Prophet.There are Baha'is who are already quite familiar with Princeton's Special Collections, and no doubt in the next couple years one of them will spend the time to investigate this possibility. -Don C

Yesterday Montana Don said...
I believe this is an urban legend, a Baha'i myth. Gibran was certainly aware of the Baha'i Faith, but I don't know of any documented evidence that he based the Prophet on Bahá'u'lláh. He did tell Juliet Thompson, who was his neighbor in NYC, that one of his books was inspired by Abdu'l-Baha; but that is as close a connection as I am aware of. -Don C

On Taking It Up a Notch: When Numbers Really Count

Numbers go up, numbers go down. But what's the trend? Not for the day, the month, or perhaps even the year. But for the long haul.

Baha'i Views numbers aren't important. The Five Year Plan -- now those numbers are important. Baha'is, aren't you glad we are counting our progress towards our goals in this "new era" of the Institute process? -gw

Bahai ViewsBaha'i Views: This Week's Visits

Thursday, June 21, 2007

On Having a Crisis of Faith: In his own time, my dad would tell us stories about Baha'u'llah

Molly reflects on faith, and in the process remembers her father. -gw

As a child, I believed in God the same way I believed in atoms: I accepted their existence on faith because the Grown-Ups said they existed. Of course, the vast majority of our 'knowledge' comes not from personal experience, but from the testimony of someone we consider to be a relevant authority. Which, to a child, is pretty much any adult.

But I got older, I learned about the scientific method and the basis for 'facts' and became more discriminating in whose word to trust. I stopped believing in Santa Claus, the Greatness of America, and Jesus Crist. But I'm still feeling the sting from that last one.I suppose it's something to do with being raised mostly-Christian. Not that I was ever very Christian. Even back when we went to church semi-regularly, we generally went with my mother; on the way home she would often provide us with her own alternative sermon, or an interpretation of what the ministers had said, coloured by her own peculiar, somewhat occult beliefs. And in his own time, my dad would tell us stories about Baha'u'llah, and explain Baha'i beliefs, which in as far as I understood them, made a lot more sense to me than the Christian ones.

In recent years, even my mother seems to have abandoned typical Christian doctrine entirely, favouring a sort of New Age Christianity, in which Jesus is the highest of many powerful ascended spirits that were once human, or something like that. I've been solidly agnostic towards all of this New-Agey psychic stuff. My own experiences make me want to believe that there is something in them (even if it's not what the New Age community thinks it is), but they are not beyond question. Every 'proof' I have seen is easily explained by science and coincidence. But recently, I've added 'God' to this category of 'maybe there's something out there' beliefs. I don't deny the existence of God (in whatever form God might have), but I don't think I believe like I used to. Even in questioning whether or not I believe, the answers I find point to non-belief; there is a great chasm of difference between believing in something and being prepared to accept the possibility of its existence.

And with this, my whole world-view is shifting. It's incredibly frightening. On the other side, I found out recently that a friend of mine back home got 'saved'. Upon hearing, I had no words to express my sadness and disappointment. Religion brings a lot of people happiness, I suppose, but not like that... not like that.

{Reposted with permission}

On Being Back in the Baha'i Community: Doin' fine

Janetta is "Doin' fine." She's off active duty, "back in with the Baha'i community and very happy." She likes that it is "full of life and activity." -gw

"My front door," uploaded on May 6, 2007 by thecameo on flickr

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

On Risk and Safety: Officially Baha'i

Adventures of Me and Me
Safety harnesses required!
Posted on 2007.06.19 at 20:49
As of tonight, I am officially Baha'i. :)
She's right about the safety harness. She has found it. Although no one says that being a Baha'i is easy.
Right: Uploaded on November 11, 2006 by nice kitty on flickr

On Gibran and the Baha'i Faith: Connection Noted

"Khalil Gibran Khalil,"Uploaded on July 29, 2005 by Moon316 on flickr
Entropy picked up a story from the Princeton Weekly Bulletin about Gibran that mentions a connection with the Baha'i Faith. -gw

“The Prophet” (1923), Gibran’s principal work, was written in English and has been translated into 20 languages. It was inspired, in part, by the life and teachings of the founder of the Baha’i faith.

Entropy, Collection of Kahlil Gibran manuscripts donated to Princeton, Entropy

On Reaching Critical Mass: It's a beautiful day

Our Baha'i community has reached critical mass. And just as promised, we are seeing lift-off.

Tonight is the third session of our Ruhi 1 study circle, continuing with our three dear seekers.

At 6:20 a.m. my son called me. "I'm up. It's a beautiful day." He's right. It's sunshine and blue sky this morning.

"How did your study circle go Monday night?" I asked. He and Megan started a Ruhi 1 on Monday, Megan as tutor, her first since she completed the sequence of Ruhi courses along with my wife and me. We were all a part of the most recent cohort of a couple dozen Baha'is in our cluster to complete the sequence.

"We had two seekers," he said. "One was a person that Megan has been riding the bus to work with. The other we had never met before that night, but had called the Baha'i number previously. We just called her up and invited her to come. Neither had ever been to any Baha'i gathering locally before."

It's a beautiful day indeed. -gw

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

On a Good Reason to Learn about Other Religions: Not Believing in Anything

This dear soul is planning to go to a Baha'i presentation for good reason. -gw

I think my going to xymboulos's Baha'i presentation tonight will be good. I've always enjoyed learning about other religions, probably due to my not really believing in anything myself.

On Baha'i Downloads in Thai: Songs, Prayers, and a Powerpoint

From the Thai Baha'i website, a powerpoint to download, and also songs and prayers in MP3 format, in Thai, but music is a universal language. The musical devotions are performed by Baha'i youth. -gw


On Putting Baha'i Prayers to Music: Animated Junior Youth

Thomas, a.k.a., is man with multiple interests, among them supporting the Junior Youth in his Baha'i community in a very unique way.-gw

For the past few months the Baha'i Junior Youth Class of Niagara has been working on music compositions using GarageBand. The purpose of these creations is for background music to different prayers and writings chosen and read by the youth creating each song. Check out the Prayers section for written copies of each Prayer, and check out the Music section to listen to the music they put together for these Prayers.
photo: "GarageBand 3 - Recording," uploaded on November 21, 2006 by mac_vegetarian on flickr

On the Subject of Peace: Many Opinions, but Guidance for Baha'is

home to beloved Lebanese writer Khalil Gibran,"
Uploaded on April 24, 2007 by Shaima! on flickr
What road leads to peace? The Baha'i Writings distinguish between the Lesser Peace and the Most Great Peace. Baha'is are provided guidance as to what their role is in God's Great Plan. -gw
Following the move to New York, Gibran meets and draws `Abdu'l-Baha, the leader of the Baha'i Faith. Gibran is impressed by `Abdu'l-Baha although they don't see eye to eye on the subject of peace where Gibran is of the opinion that there are circumstances where a forceful approach is required, not least in the plight of Lebanon breaking free from the Ottoman rule.

Monday, June 18, 2007

On Seekers and New Baha'is: Returning Calls and Making Connections

Photo: "thich nhat hanh quotes," uploaded on February 13, 2007 by hlvtca on flickr

My email to our Assembly chairperson following up on my assignment to make some follow-up calls to persons who called our community phone number. -gw

Lori, I called both the Seabeck person, Thomas, and the Navy person, Nick.

Thomas called our number after finding it in the phone book and thinking perhaps that the Baha'i Faith was Buddhist. He is reading a book about Buddhism and is attracted to it. I explained to him the Baha'i Faith and it's relationship to Buddhism. He was very friendly, but it is Buddhism he is pursuing right now.

I then spoke with Nick in San Diego who has declared his Faith in Baha'u'llah after having attended meetings at the San Diego Center for five weeks. He heard about the Faith after visiting the House of Worship when he was stationed at Great Lakes Naval Base in Illiinois. He noted that Kitsap County doesn't have a Baha'i Center and wanted to be connected with Baha'is when he arrives here in Washington on July 20th. He mentioned his concern that he will not have a car for the first month he is in Washington and requested a ride to activities. I told him I would see that word was passed on. Is it possible to contact the Cluster coordinator for Kitsap County and find out if there is a Book 1 starting next month that Nick could attend?


Photo: "-where- San Diego -what- view from Navy barracks," uploaded on September 22, 2005 by melanie on flickr

Friday, June 15, 2007

On Religions that Do Not Intimidate: Baha'i Among Them

Christopher sees the Baha'i Faith in a category of religious traditions that do not intimidate. -gw
The religions that have no system of intimidation built into them are Baha'i, Shinto (tho' it is deeply entwined with Japanese Buddhism), Rastafarianism, neo-paganism and Unitarian Universalism -- with some African traditional and diaspora religions, some Jews and some primal indigenous religions. I feel that these, then, are the outside limits of the religions I would be willing to deal with. They're the religions that systematically make it policy not to intimidate people with threats of eternal punishment for non-belief or disobedience. I know that there are sects of the other religions that also do not coerce people, and I'd be willing to deal with them, as well. I think that lack of intimidation and coercion might be my standard for dealing with a given religion, politically or socially. Because without the threat behind it, religion is just a choice.
{Re-posted with permission}

On Missed Opportunities to Learn About the Baha'i Faith: Stranger but truer

Not every effort that is made to learn about the Baha'i Faith has a happy ending, at least not in the short run. Below is proof, and provides a lesson that is relevant to many Baha'i communities, including my own, where phone calls of inquiry don't necessarily get answered promptly, and sometimes, God forbid, get overlooked altogether. God sometimes uses a pretty motley crew to carry out His Will here on earth.

Below is the woeful ending to one story. Click over and read how it all begins. We Baha'is can resolve to author a better ending to future stories of this variety. -gw

I call the Baha'i hotline again and leave a message for the cheery man. He doesn't call me back. I feel bad. I'm sorry. No Baha'i.

A Month of Sundays:

The Stranger Sends 31 Writers to 31 Houses of Worship
By Stranger Staff

On Sitemeter Stats: Pretty Colors

Blogging unites the world, one blogger at a time. ...
Pick a card, any card. -gw
Country Share

On Baha'i Puppeteers in Ethiopia: They treated me wth kindness and dignity

How fascinating to read this post from Dean of of his encounter in Ethiopia with Baha'is who have started a TV program for children in that country! -gw

I’ve ... become friends with a family with Kansas connections, a brother and sister now living here have married Ethiopians. Shane and his wife Bruktawit create a childrens puppet program widely watched each Saturday morning across the country. His sister Gail and her husband Zelalem run a private school for young children. There’s no public education for preschool kids, so the TV program provides some support for the community as a whole. And the private school started by Gail and Zelalem offers children a solid education and the chance to start life on the right foot.

Here's the web site for the Saturday morning program: Take a look and send them a note of support!

Here's Bruktawit and Shane at the studio.

They also invited me to do a presentation at the Baha’i Center. I shared with the community my experiences of traveling the world and the various religions I encountered. They responded with excellent questions, and treated me with great kindness and dignity.

Dean, "One day at a time-catching up!" Travel 4 Life
{Re-posted with permission}

Thursday, June 14, 2007

On Religion as a Source of Disunity: Word and Sacrament were never intended to be used as barriers between humanity and God

"Religion bestoweth upon man the most precious of gifts" - Baha'u'llah

“The Changeless Faith of God”
When Bahá'ís say that the various religions are one, they do not mean that the various religious creeds and organizations are the same. Rather, they believe that there is only one religion and all of the Messengers of God have progressively revealed its nature. Together, the world's great religions are expressions of a single unfolding Divine plan.
More >

"Interfaith Prayer Service: This montage happened by accident when I imported the wrong photos for conversion in to a HDR image." Uploaded on June 27, 2006 by Retinal Fetish on flickr

Baha'u'llah said that if religion is a source of disunity, it is better to have no religion at all, a sentiment that appears to be in keeping with Pastor Doug's post. -gw

This might sound a bit odd coming from someone who makes a living off of religion, but the more I think about this the more I'm convinced that religion, any religion, is not necessary. I have no doubts that religion has done much good in the world. I have no doubts that religion has been a fuel for some of the most horrific scenes of the human drama. I don't see the existence of religion as an issue of good or bad. I question the necessity of having a religion at all.

It could be argued that religion is necessary insofar as it serves as a moral compass for people. That may or may not be true, but most expressions of religion have bogged themselves down in this area through behavior modification and judgmentalism.

Then there's the battle over which religion is "right". Christianity? Islam? Judaism? Buddhism? Hinduism? Shinto? Baha'i? Who's got it right? Each individually would say "we" are right and everyone else is wrong. Christianity is especially good at this, as it has always made that claim. Islam does the same thing. Then along come the atheists who say that none of them are right because there is no god. On the other end of the spectrum are the Universalist Unitarians who say that all of them are right and serve as different pathways to god. Frankly, I think all of these groups are trying to bounce billiard balls.

It doesn't make much difference to me who's right or how many. My question is, "Are they necessary vehicles for God to interact with humanity?" Is it true that God needs a religious system to reveal Himself? IMO, religion has only served as a vehicle for humanity to interact with God. And perhaps humanity may perceive a need for that vehicle, as it gives people a sense of meaning and purpose. But perception doesn't equate with necessity.I know this will never happen, but what would result if every religious organization in the world decided to shut down and liquidate their assets? I know that I would end up seeking employment elsewhere. But would people all of a sudden become lost? They might be sad or angry, but that doesn't mean they are lost. Can I be completely honest here? It would not bother me one bit if every church, synagogue, mosque, diocese, headquarters, temple, meditation center, sangha, etc., etc., all of a sudden closed their doors.

I believe in God. I believe that God was revealed ultimately in the person of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Bible. I even believe that God uses Word and Sacrament to interact with us. But does this mean that I'm therefore obligated to belong to a religious organization, like a church? The argument could be made that a church with ordained clergy is the only place one would have any exposure to Word and Sacrament ministry, and so is therefore necessary. But necessary for what? For salvation? If that's the case, then Word and Sacrament become legalistic requirements instead of signs which point us to God's Kingdom. They were never intended to be used as barriers between humanity and God.

Thoughts on this?

Pastor Doug, "Religiosity," Lutheran Minister Unplugged: What synapse misfirings and cerebellum overloads look like in cyberspace

{Re-posted with permission}

On a Significant Election: American Indian Woman Heads National Governing Body of the Baha'is of the U.S.

Lakota Hoop Dancer
Jacqueline Left Hand Bull and Suzanne Haldane
New York: Dutton, 1998.

Joye, a Lakota Baha'i, made the statement at our Convention Delegate's report last Friday about how significant the election of an American Indian to be the chairperson of our NSA is to the native community and passed on this link as evidence. Click over for the whole story. -gw

Jacqueline Left Hand Bull-Delahunt has been chosen as the first American Indian woman to head the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States.

Left Hand Bull-Delahunt, a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, was brought up by traditional Lakota grandparents and parents. She became a member of the Baha'is more than 20 years ago.

"Lakota woman elected to head U.S. Baha'is' national assembly,"
Posted: June 11, 2007
by: David Melmer / Indian Country Today

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

On Blogs Un-Updated: Canoeing, Teaching, and Viewing

This blog has not been updated since last Friday, and it's Wednesday already. Tonight is the second meeting of the Ruhi Book 1 Study Circle I am tutoring, my first such experience, praise be to God! Tomorrow night is Assembly meeting. And, thanks to the kids on my recent birf-day, my new I-Pod has been calling, "Load me, sync me."

Flitzy Phoebie
Last week my wife told me I should update my other blogs, Canoeing Destinations in the Pacific Northwest and Teaching the Baha'i Faith. We've certainly done a lot of canoeing trips, far more than are chronicled on the canoeing blog. We certainly have been in a deliriously delightful whirlwind of teaching over the months. So my answer to my wife is: "Why should I? Everything I might want to cover shows up on your blog Flitzy Phoebie and in a timely manner."

Yet these blogs by Baha'is are important, as we are reminded by the example of Barney who has nurtured a launch of new personal blogs, including one by such a devoted wordsmith as Wendi Momen. So I will update this blog. Now. -gw

Friday, June 08, 2007

On People as Flowers in a Garden: Each has their own beauty

Cameron devotes a post to to a lovely bit of philosophizing about friendship and in the process mentions something told to her by a Baha'i friend. -gw

By a fortunate quirk of happily-aligning schedules, ed_ify was able to meet me for what was planned to be coffee, but turned into lunch, at our previously-favourite west end diner. (We both adore the Original Flava greasy-spoon vibe and the friendly service, but have become disenchanted with the rising prices and not-as-good food. Hardly a tragedy in a city as replete with diners as my much-loved T-Dot.)

He's going away for work on the weekend. Won't see him 'til mid-July. Le sigh. Sometimes I think I miss him as much as his wife does, albeit in a very different way.

It's a funny thing, how we met all those years ago- more than 20- and became such excellent friends. Living proof that men and women really can have completely intimate and yet utterly Platonic relationships.

With him I am reminded of the very good definition I once saw: "a friend is someone with whom one discusses important things."

And I am also reminded that just because a person might share one's tastes, hobbies, provenance, professional and/or academic background, and possibly even physiological quirks, there's no guarantee that this indicates a friendship-worthy compatibility. No, not at all. All these little coincidences add up to nothing.

To be friends, good friends, what's important is character. Who you are at the core. General demeanour, outlook on the world. And even in that, there's wiggle room. No online matchmaker would ever have put Rob and I together, we're so different. I may never in this life pick up the game of poker, and he would rather go to the dentist than the opera, and yet still we're very happy together. We're alike in the ways that really matter.

A Baha'i once told me that all the world's people are as flowers in an endless garden. And while everyone may have their own beauty, and I may in theory bless you every one, that doesn't mean that I have to like everyone, nor expect them to like me. Courtesy, but of course. Invitation to my table, perhaps not.

And that's perfectly okay.

Cameron (artistatlarge) wrote,@ 2007-06-06 16:22:00, "on being friends," Artist at Large
{Re-posted with permission}

Thursday, June 07, 2007

On the Lotus Temple: This chamber, an instrument

I sit here on the stone bench and it's as if the my head is being drawn gently up by some invisible Electra-magnet. I have done a lot of meditation in my life and I am able to get into a receptive state of consciousness very quickly. This is the case now. I hear the sound that is like a powerful 'white noise' or a violin that is being played but where the sound is heard as a long sustained echo. The Bahai's have created in this chamber, an instrument that has a magical feeling to it. I could stay here all day.
So reads Steven's reflections upon sitting in the Lotus Temple in India last January when the snow was presumably high in Waterloo, Canada. -gw
{Re-posted with permission}
"Interior of lotus temple,"
Uploaded on April 29, 2006
by Anil Maharjan on flickr

On Violence: Whether or not to give in to the animal self

I have read with great interest many of Ian's compelling posts over various incarnations of his blog. This post on violence strikes a chord. May children be protected from exposure to the violence of a world that seems to seeth with rage. See Ian's page on non-violence. -gw

I made a comment on a newsgroup just now that interested me. I told someone that even though I'm dedicated to non-violence, I like war movies. It made me stop and think, and examine my feelings.

Uploaded on December 8, 2006 by kindersnap (away) on flickr

...we have to wrestle with our urge to hurt and our urge to help and heal. A Baha'i friend of mine told me something very profound a couple months ago. She told me that in the Baha'i writings, Baha'is are asked to live their lives "like a beautiful prayer". There's no room in prayer for violence, so the urge to hurt must come from the mind, not the soul. (I know, just follow me on this one.) We aren't born violent. You don't read reports of babies killing each other in the playpen. I saw a baby today that was absolutely still and quiet, and just looking around the Chinese restaurant we were in, taking everything into his mind, drinking his tea, and eating his bowl of noodles. Probably no more than a year or two old. (It's hard for a bachelor to tell.) ...

I think it's the game we have to play here on this Earth: whether or not to give in to our animalselves.

My ex-girlfriend ... is convinced that there is no essential difference between human and animal. She sees humans as advanced animals. I see humans as distinctly different than animals, because we have the ability to recognize God, the ability to change, the ability to create. There are so many differences, and yet she is partly right, I think. Humans are not advanced enough to have reached a state of mutual peace. It may take decades. It may take centuries. I hope to see it in my lifetime....

Ian, "Things that make you say: 'Weird,'" The Quiet Room

{Re-posted with permission}

On Universal Human Rights: The universal cannot be in conflict with its creator

The example of the Baha'i faith is one way to discredit the idea that universal human rights are in fundamental conflict with the belief in a supreme being. ...if you believe that a supreme being created the universe, then surely the universal cannot be in conflict with its creator?

Alex Bigham, "Faith and foreign policy," Guardian Unlimited
Thanks for this, Marco of Povo de Baha, and for having your eyes on the 'net, as always. -gw

On World Citizenry: Africa, China, World

Blogger and Baha'i Child of Africa is in China, not all that unusual for a world citizen. For lovely and even poignant posts on her China experience, go here. -gw

Uploaded on November 22, 2006 by jenbrea on flickr

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

On Une Réunion Religieuse: sont Baha'i, c'est pas connu en France mais beaucoup ici !!

With a Baha'i meeting going on in the house, Lucille remained in her room and finished the 6th season of Smallville. It was that good. -gw

Braulia et Jua ont ensuite fait une réunion religieuse ici (ils sont Baha'i, c'est pas connu en France mais beaucoup ici !!), donc moi je suis restée sagement dans ma chambre et j'ai fini la 6ième saison de smallville !!

Braulia and Jua then made a religious meeting here (they is Baha' I, it is not known in France but much here!!), therefore me I remained wisely in my room and I finished the 6th season of smallville!!

On Visiting Chicago: Сначала был храм Бахаи

"chicago-downtown," Uploaded on August 20, 2005 by narsidude on flickr

Crimson Cat visits Chicago and ... the Baha'i House of Worship. -gw

Stas Torgashov (crimcat) wrote @ 2007-06-03 23:21:00

Entry tags: america, diary

ЧикагоВесь сегодняшний день провел в Чикаго. И, надо сказать, не пожалел.Сначала был храм Бахаи. С удивлением узнал, что вообще есть такая религия - Baha'i, и Чикаго - одно из 5 (вроде бы) мест на земном шаре, где есть такие храмы.

User: crimcat (7915982)
Lapsus kalami: Crimson Cat's weblog
Name: Stas Torgashov

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

On Reflecting on Race Unity: Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony

Reflection Meetings inspire Baha'is to activity and further reflection. Angela is hosting a Race Unity commemoration next week. -gw
Now, at this point I have to wonder...what part of my Aries nature decided to host a Race Unity commemoration next Sunday, June 10? The initiating side or the impulsive side? I really don't know. And I'm beginning to think this has to be one of my not-so-great ideas.
It began with something that Baha'is are encouraged (but not required) to do, which is become involved in the core activities of the Faith. Almost two weeks ago, I became inspired at a cluster reflection meeting, and I decided that for the first time, I would form my own teaching team. It's not that the other teams hadn't worked, but I really felt moved to do so. But I'm often moved to worked by myself because part of me thinks I can get things done a lot easier that way. That kind of thinking is typically Western in origin especially here in the United States, but it's also contrary to Baha'i teachings about the power of unity and consultation.
Clearly, I have some work to do as far as understanding those concepts. As fate would have it, I think I was elected to the Rancho Cordova Spiritual Assembly for that purpose. No one has ever groaned more when I found out that I was again on the Assembly. They say, if you resist a test, you will get it again and again. And again some more. I have a lifelong history of practicing resistance to anything, often on nothing more than general principle. It's surprising that I have remained a Baha'i for the past twenty years, considering my ample share of resistance to change. But here I am. God truly is Almighty!
Uploaded on January 25, 2007 by lynda_syntax on flickr
However, I've been doing a lot of reflection, meditation and prayer about this Race Unity event and some disturbing thoughts have surfaced. As an African American, I have found that anger comes to me far too easily on the subject of racial prejudice. Bright red lightning flashes before my eyes, my jaw is set tight and my fists clench. That's just my body's reaction to the subject. My mind flashes pictures at a rate of a thousand per minute. Pictures of slave ships, Africans being sold on auction blocks, backs scarred and mutilated by whippings, black men hanging from trees and lamp posts as jeering white crowds laugh and point, black people being knocked over by high powered hoses during the Civil Rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination...not to mention my own experiences as an African American growing up in mostly white neighborhoods during the 60s and 70s. I've lost track of how many times I was called the "N" word, and the number of fights that occurred as a result. Yes, I won. All of them. There's nothing on Earth more fierce than an enraged little Aries black girl with a demonic punch. I didn't care how many white kids surrounded me. I was going to fight or die.Am I "over it"? Well, I thought so. Twenty years of trying to live a Baha'i life has, in spite of my recalcitrant nature, made some significant changes in my thoughts and actions. I stop, think and pray before I punch these days. Believe me, this is no small feat. Ask my ex-husband. On second thought, don't ask him. Anyway, I do know that I am much more open to ideas that I would have termed as being "too white" back when I was a Panther wannabe. (I was too young to join the Black Panthers without running away from my parents. And I wasn't down for the Revolution enough to disobey Mary and Richard Shortt.) You would never guess that I once wanted to "burn, baby, burn" if you saw me at Baha'i social events these days. I've even learned to appreciate rock, folk and bluegrass music. It's still not my favorite; it's not like I'm running out and buying those CDs. But I can listen and even hear things that I like in the music. I wouldn't have done that in my baby Panther days. I was too afraid of being called a "sell out".
Two images came to mind during meditation that showed me I still have a lot of destructive anger in me. One was, ironically enough, a race unity conference that I attended in the late 80s at Bosch Baha'i School in Santa Cruz, California. I remember that the session involved studying Shoghi Effendi's writings "The Advent of Divine Justice" about healing racial prejudice in the American Baha'i community. We read the section of the book that is titled "The Most Challenging Issue", then broke up into racially divided lines so we could consult honestly about the selection:
Let the white make a supreme effort in their resolve to contribute their share to the solution of this problem, to abandon once for all their usually inherent and at times subconscious sense of superiority, to correct their tendency towards revealing a patronizing attitude towards the members of the other race, to persuade them through their intimate, spontaneous and informal association with them of the genuineness of their friendship and the sincerity of their intentions, and to master their impatience of any lack of responsiveness on the part of a people who have received, for so long a period, such grievous and slow-healing wounds. Let the Negroes, through a corresponding effort on their part, show by every means in their power the warmth of their response, their readiness to forget the past, and their ability to wipe out every trace of suspicion that may still linger in their hearts and minds. Let neither think that the solution of so vast a problem is a matter that exclusively concerns the other. Let neither think that such a problem can either easily or immediately be resolved. Let neither think that they can wait confidently for the solution of this problem until the initiative has been taken, and the favorable circumstances created, by agencies that stand outside the orbit of their Faith. Let neither think that anything short of genuine love, extreme patience, true humility, consummate tact, sound initiative, mature wisdom, and deliberate, persistent, and prayerful effort, can succeed in blotting out the stain which this patent evil has left on the fair name of their common country. (pg 40, "The Advent of Divine Justice". Shoghi Effendi. Baha'i Publishing Trust, Wilmette, Illinois.)

"Childhood Is Without Prejudice,"
Uploaded on October 22, 2006 by Dr. Maturin on flickr
I was with the black group of course, and the unified conclusion that we came after reading and consulting about the selection was that we didn't have to do a thing until white folks made a move toward demonstrating racial justice. "The Guardian said, 'through a CORRESPONDING effort..." one brother told the rest of us. We all nodded. That's right. We weren't making a move until white folks came correct. We returned to the session, pretty satisfied with our response.
Of course, that's NOT what Shoghi Effendi meant. But that's how we dangerously re-interpreted his words. What this experience has done is proved to me beyond a semi-particle of doubt that humanity NEEDS the Universal House of Justice, an infallible institution that is completely detached from the emotional and social tumult of the world that can offer clarity and guidance when we have neither. If left to our own devices, we would have done what so many denominations have done throughout history: re-worked words of the Ancient Book according to our own vain and spiritually immature longings. Blessed are we to live in age that has the means of correcting that tendency! ...
It is with all this tossing around in my mind that I am hosting Race Unity Day next Sunday. Y'all pray for me, please.
"The diversity in the human family should be the cause of love and harmony, as it is in music where many different notes blend together in the making of a perfect chord.” Abdu'l Baha'
Angela, "Race Unity Day and an Aries's Folly," Yeah...and so, anyway...
{Re-posted with permission}