Tuesday, July 31, 2007

On the Baha'i Faith in Vietnam: One could say it is the most updated of the Abrahamic religions

" Baha'i youth in Ho Chi Minh City,"Uploaded on September 14, 2006 by T.Quynh on flickr

Lowerleavell visits Vietnam to do volunteer service and provides an overview of religions in the country. His description of the Baha'i Faith is noteworthy. -gw

A final small note... Islam is practically non-existent. There is a small strain of Baha’i faith which is an offshoot of Islam - one could say it’s the most updated Abrahamic religion.

lowerleavell, "Living In A Country Of Respect" Gospel of Reason: Pre-packaged rationality ready for consumption

Baha'i junior youth group in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
"How cute they are!"
Uploaded on September 14, 2006 by T.Quynh on flickr

Monday, July 30, 2007

Friday, July 27, 2007

On Humanity Entering the Stage of Maturity: Intriguing Post by Pan Shiyi

A post on SinaBlog caught Child of Africa's attention. She translated it into English for Baha'i Views readers to enjoy. Many thanks to her for sharing this. gw

There is a blog that some of my friends in China like to read that I go to on occasion and that seems to enjoy quite a wide readership. I was intrigued by the following entry and so I translated it so that I would know what he had to say and also in case it was of interest to Baha'i Views :) The notion of "oneness" as referring to an integration of opposites is also fresh and intriguing...i am still chewing on it and not quite sure the argument hangs together yet but it brings to my attention again the potential for people from different backgrounds to bring new perspectives to our understanding of the Faith and the truths it enshrines.

From the blog entry of Pan Shiyi entitled "Humanity is entering the stage of maturity" http://blog.sina.com.cn/u/4679dbbf01000bkb
"When I watched movies as a child, I always wanted to know which character was the good guy and which one was the bad guy. But usually movie plots are designed in such a way that you only know who is actually the bad guy at the very end of the movie. This made me really frustrated and I would frequently ask the adults in my presence "Is this person good or bad?" It is only as I age that I realize that the world is not so easily categorized into black and white and good and bad.

"Recently I have been reading works by some wise sages such as Baha'u'llah and Zoroaster. They have a common understanding of human society and they use the maturation of the individual as a metaphor for the maturation of human society. That is to say that human society also passes through phases of development.

"The first stage of development is the stage of chaos which is characterized by lack of understanding, values or religious belief just as a baby is born into ignorance. Detailed descriptions of the characteristics of human society in this stage have been presented in the Bible and in the "Tao Te Ching" and I do not dwell on these classics here.

"The second stage is the stage of duality: If it is not black then it is white; if it is not heaven then it is hell; if they are not the friend then they are the enemy; if you are not a country that is against terrorism then you are a terrorist country. In Zoroastrianism there is the God of Light, Ahura Mazda, and also the God of Darkness, Ahraman. This represents a stage that is lacking in maturity that corresponds to human society during its time of childhood.

"The third stage of human society is the stage of maturity. The main signs of this third stage are oneness, cooperation, and unity. "The great oneness of all under the heavens;" "humanity as one family;" "one world, one dream" are the themes of this great period of maturity. Those who are stuck in the thoughts, customs, values, outdated superstitions of the second stage of human society slow down and hinder humanity's development and advancement into the stage of maturity.

"The characteristics of this stage of maturity have all been described in detail by Baha'u'llah but these characteristics are already evident in present day society: movement towards global integration is a powerful force impelling humanity towards the period of maturity, but trade protectionism and the imposition of sanctions are the hindrances. Humanity as one family and care and loving concern for each other are the powers for progress towards this period of maturity, while extreme nationalism is a powerful hindrance. But regardless of the challenges that humanity encounters on its path to maturity the trend cannot be stopped, it is as inevitable as the fact that the child is going to grow up into an adult."

On Life After Death and the Progress of the Soul: The Passing of a Young Child

It has been a week since the death of little Hannah through a tragic drowning. The incident has touched the hearts of many, including my wife and me. Many bloggers have posted about Hannah. -gw

Fancy Hannah
17 hours ago by DebMomOf3 No, this post is not about my Hannah. Someone on one of my message boards posted about a family that just lost their 5-year-old daughter in a tragic drowning accident, one week ago. ...
Prayers Please
24 Jul 2007 by Andrea: In the midst of all the fun I must take a moment and beg you to offer prayers for the mother (family) of a little girl named Hannah who was lost a few days ago to a drowning. Please remember them and offer your encouragement. ...
For Little Hannah
24 Jul 2007 by Monkey Giggles: She is a mommy blogger who lost her sweet little Hannah due to a drowning. I could not even beginning the sorrow this family is feeling. Let's love on this family like Jesus would. ...
In Memory of Fancy Hannah
23 Jul 2007 by Kimberly: A fellow blogger, and sister of a girl who posts on a message board with me, has lost her sweet daughter Hannah in a drowning accident. It has just torn me up inside. I cannot imagine losing a child. Please keep Hannah's family in your prayers ...
Prayer Needs - The Children of the Blogosphere
23 Jul 2007 by Janne: I was visiting at 5 Minutes for Mom yesterday, when I found out about Hannah, a precious little girl whose life was tragically cut short this week, due to a drowning accident. ...
My heart has been touched by a sad and tragic story
22 Jul 2007 by Slackermommy: I have just read the most heartbreaking story of a family who just lost their six year old, Hannah in a drowning accident. My heart simply aches for this family. I do not know them and today was my first time to Hannah's mother's blog. ...
I can’t stop crying…
21 Jul 2007 by Janice: A precious little girl named Hannah died on Thursday in a freak drowning accident at the beach. Her mother and her aunt are both bloggers. I have just been reading more about adorable Hannah and her baby sister Lily over at her mom’s ...
A prayer for a fellow blogger! Her beautiful niece...
21 Jul 2007 by mAsOn & tErrI's mOm: Her beautiful niece Hannah died thursday morning due to drowning. Please pray for her and her family. Pray to keep the faith strong and for her parents especially to help cope with their loss. I couldn't imagine...
I’m at a loss for words
21 Jul 2007 by Admin: Sweet little Hannah was playing in the water at the beach and ended up drowning. I hate to even say it so bluntly. It seems so harsh. Sadly, it’s this family’s reality. One moment they are going through their day like any other and the ...

For Little Hannah...
20 Jul 2007 by Annie: This precious little girl is Hannah. She is the daughter of one of my dear blogging friends Rach. On Thursday she passed away in a drowning accident. My heart breaks for Rach and her family. You can visit Rach's blog, read the stories ...

My wife and I received an email from a dear friend who wanted to know, with Hannah in mind, "what exactly Baha'is believe happens to the souls of children who die young." This was part of my response to her. -gw

The articles on Bahai.org are succinct in their overview of the subject of the soul and life after death, although they do not specially cover the subject of the death of a child and the progress of the soul:

But here is a passage from Abdu'l-Baha who provides guidance to a mother who has lost her infant:

"Be not grieved at the death of that infant child, for it is placed in trust for thee before thy Lord in His great Kingdom. Verily God will bestow upon thee that whereby thy heart shall be rejoiced and thy breast shall be dilated. Verily thy Lord is compassionate and merciful!"


Certainly Hannah is now "placed in trust" for her mother and family and all who love her in God's great Kingdom.

We are encouraged to pray for the progress of the souls of those who have gone before us. Many prayers have been said for Hannah in our household and will continue to be said.

Here is a reference written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi that models the Baha'i response regarding the loss of a child.

"He will pray for the progress and happiness of the soul of your dear daughter in the invisible, spiritual worlds. He feels your attitude in this physical separation from her is exemplary, and is causing her great happiness now."

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

On Being a Bridge Between the East and the West: A Grandfather's Wish for His Grandson

How is it that children of Baha'is grow up to be Baha'is? What can we learn from the stories of highly committed and devoted 2nd, 3rd, or 4th generation Baha'is? How did the flame of faith come to burn so brightly within their families? Nabil's story is illuminating. -gw

My grandfather was the strongest male figure in my family who had the greatest influence on me. He was born a Sunni Muslim in the south of Iran where he attended an Islamic school and studied the Quran. He moved from his small village in Bandar Lengeh to Bahrain and then Kuwait. In his youth in Iran he heard about the Baha’i Faith which he investigated before converting to it. He was a Muslim who was willing to choose the path of faith rather than comfort and ease, for he investigated Baha’u’llah’s claim to be a new messenger of God and accepted it regardless of the consequences which at that time in Iran could have been fatal. He was the only one in his family to become a Baha’i and his new faith strained relations with some members of his family. Nevertheless, he did not choose to simply follow the religion of his forefathers. ...

[A]t the age of 14 when I was entering into adolescence and becoming more conscious of the world, I sought during my last visit with my grandfather ... to know more about his life and upbringing. I wanted to know about his childhood, the things he enjoyed, the sufferings he endured, and most importantly, I wanted him to share with me the pearls of wisdom that he accumulated over a lifetime with regards to life and religion. Yet my wish was not to be granted for my time with my grandfather was limited as he was too weak and my Arabic nonexistent. ...

A few years later, my aunt recounted to me how my grandfather wished for me to become a bridge between the East and the West, as I am born of both worlds. As a result, the impression left on me by my grandfather; my desire to speak Arabic again with my family in Kuwait and Arabs; and the chance and hope to become a bridge between two worlds, East and West....

Nabil, "Why I Want to Learn Arabic," Expositions of Arabia: Dedicated to the illumination of reality
{Reposted with permission}

On Questing for the Moral High Ground: Finding the Baha'i Faith

I think Jason is onto something. -gw

1. There is oneness of the entire human race.
2. There must be an independent searth after truth, unfettered by supersition or tradition.
3. There is a basic unity of all religion.
4. All forms of prejudice, whether religious, racial, class related, or national, are condemned.
5. Harmony must exist between religion and science.
6. There is equality of men and women.
7. Cumpulsory education must prevail.
8. There should be a universal language.
9. Extremes of wealth and poverty should be abolished.
10. A world tribunal for the adjudication of disputes among nations should be instituted.
11. Work performed in the spirit of service should be exalted to the rank of worship.
12. Justice should be glorified as the ruling principle in human society and religion for protection of all peoples and nations.
13. The establishment of a permanent and universal peace should the the suprememe goal of mankind.


After years of study and reflection, I've come to the conclusion that all of the religions of the world must have spring from one source. The Golden Rule is instinctual. It has to be. How else would so many different faiths, from so many different geographic areas, come to so similair of conclusions?

There are obviously many possibilities, but in my mind there are only two logical conclusions. The gods of all faiths are the one God, or there is no god at all. Equality amoung men and women of all races and creeds is just, or justice itself is undefinable. There is truth to the idea of Karma. There is truth in the Ten Commandments, the Eightfold Path, and even some parts of the Qu'Ran. Every faith has pieces of what is the absolute truth. Therefore, God must exist, at least in some form. I believe in circumstance to a point, but there are far too many similarities. Even if only as an ingrained human idea, God exists. There can be no doubt whatever that the peoples of the world, of whatever race or religion, derive their inspiration from this one source, be it internal or devine.

If God exists, his existance must be scientifically provable. As frequently quoted, "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." We currently lack the scientific capacity to prove or disprove the existance of God, and that lack of capacity proves nothing. All we truly have to rely on is thought and emotion, which combine to form faith. The more I think about it, the stronger my feeling is becoming. For the first time in my life, I'm begining to have faith that God exists.
Also, it's my firm belief that in creation there is no evil; all is good. Certain qualities and natures innate in some men and apparently blameworthy are not so in reality. They're mearly different. Fear of the different led to the man-made creations of intolerance, prejudice, revenge, and hatred... known collectively as evil. Thoughtful introspection and unbiased education are the collective path we should all strive to follow.
On studying religions, I found several that I feel are very close to my personal beliefs, specifically Buddhism and Baha'i. Right now, I'm spending a lot of time reading about Baha'i, as it's not a mainstream religion in Western culture, so it's still pretty new to me. The 13 primary doctrines seem pretty rock solid to me for the most part though. What do you think?
Jason, "Thoughts on God," An Ever Changing Mind
{Re-posted with permission}

On Religious Influences: They encouraged me to question

Uploaded on August 15, 2006
by lukewho on flickr
Here is a post, compelling, but disturbing to read, that reflects the diverse religious influences on a twenty-something and the frustrations that come up for her in her religious encounters. I wouldn't have come across the post, nor would I have linked to it were it not for two sentences. -gw
Mum was a mystic who grew up Methodist and was a member of Eastern Star and da was a recovering-Missouri-Synod-Lutheran-burgeoning-agnostic who grew up Catholic, Missouri Synod Lutheran, and Baha'i. They encouraged my brother and I to think and to question.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

On Power Naps, Baha'i Study Circles, and Personal Stories: Although I was raised Baha'i, I do have my own story

I used to think that I couldn't fit any Baha'i activity into a weeknight, except for the occasional feast. It had to be the weekend. But no longer. Our study circle is Wednesday evening and our devotional meeting is on Thursdays at 7 pm. Emoney used a power nap to prepare for her weeknight study circle, as she relates in this reflection on her life. -gw
Uploaded on November 9, 2006
by Hippie Gal on flickr
"Power nap"

this week i ... learned the value of the 20-minute power nap. i did not have class thursday night but had the first night of a Baha'i study circle. i got home after work and thought there would be no way that i could rally myself and be coherent, but a power nap (and a bit of coffee) saved the day. i was glad i went. i heard the stories of two young men who found the Baha'i Faith during the past two years. their stories were amazing. i realized that although i was raised Baha'i, i do have my own story. i might have to tell it next week, but that is ok. and the story continues.

emoney, "Nerd Points Earned," Miscellany v. 2.0

{Re-posted with permission}

On Being a Witness at a Baha'i Wedding: If I didn't see it, it didn't happen

My son Taraz and and his bride Megan at their wedding last September. Photo by Tim and Kathy Hall on Flitzy Phoebie

I chuckle at the thought that music from a mafia-inspired movie is played at a Baha'i wedding, but that was the case not only in the following excerpt but at my son's wedding last year which I DJ-ed. Wedding music from every culture has a certain joy to it, just as weddings everywhere are so often peak experiences for not only the couple but the attendees. Bmaloney was one of the two designated witnesses to the Baha'i wedding he decribes. -gw

[W]e hung around for a while until it was time to head back ... for the momentous event. Although, at this time they were legally married, they had had the civil ceremony in the morning, this was the spiritual marriage with them wearing "official wedding" clothing. The whole thing was held in a single room, the service, the dinner and the afters; strangely the room seemed to change size for each event. When in service mode, it appeared very small and intimate, everyone was dressed up in suits and dresses, waiting for [her] to make her entrance. ...

Eventually, the music began, and [she] made her way into the room, she was wearing a lovely white dress (you'll see pics when I upload them) and the whole room stood up and applauded, it was a really emotional. The ceremony began, it consisted of a whole lot of music interspersed with Baha'i readings, a lovely ceremony. The music was sang by friends of the couple, making it a very intimate, celebratory event. And then, came the vows, which in the Bahai faith basically consists of one sentence "We will all verily abide by the will of God", the word verily was the source of much hilarity over the course of the two days, as was another word "resplendent", both of which featured frequently during the ceremony. So once both of them said that, they were married spiritually, in the eyes of God, everyone clapped again. And then I had to go up to sign the register, to say that I had witnessed the two of them saying the correct words. If I didn't see it, it didn't happen. I went up, and hugged each of them ... and did my job. It was a lovely event.

After this, we went outside for photos, it was a gorgeous day, completely going against the forecast. About a million photos ... later, it was time to go in for dinner. ...

And then the room metamorphosed once more, into party central. We had the first dance, where [they] danced to the Godfather Theme, I laughed, a lot. The music was played by a swing band, leading to a lot of swing dancing, which was fun. And there was a dj ... after that. The whole night was a great success and will set the standard for all future weddings in the class.

bmaloney, "Update," The Fragile: I won't let you fall apart
{Re-posted with permission}

Monday, July 23, 2007

On Bringing Baha'i Children's Classes to the Children: MissB and the Boys:

There is something so awe-inspiring about the fact that Baha'i communities are no longer satisfied to have children's classes for Baha'i children at locations that are convenient for Baha'is but are increasingly taking children's classes to where large numbers of children and their families reside, whether Baha'i or not, often meeting in apartment complexes. MissB in Minneapolis describes such an effort. -gw

"My friends at our children's class. The boy on the right is one of my favorite kids. Today when we talked about Abdu'l-Baha and the meaning of his name (Servant of the glory), he said 'immmpressive!' He went on to say this about Jesus, my camera, and Eddie fitting into a kid's lakers jersey. It was his word of the day." Uploaded on July 15, 2007 by m_ninja on flickr

My friends and I have been doing a Baha'i children's class at their apartment building in Minneapolis. All the kids are Oromo, Ethiopian, or Somali, and we usually only find boys. Today we talked about purity of heart, and I sat with one of the younger boys, Abel, talking about the picture he was coloring in and the quote at the bottom of it: "My first counsel is this; possess a pure, kindly, and radiant heart."

The conversation led to what he does to help his parents and siblings, and he said "I hug them, and I give them flowers ... and trophies!"

I noticed that these kids talk about God a whole lot. Some are Muslim, some Christian - most of them think about God every day (or at least hear about God from their parents). As we talked about a story of Abdu'l-Baha, one boy - the one in the picture, on the right asked me who I think God is. This was actually a difficult question. I've never tried to explain my belief in God to a child before. I thought back to a beautiful discussion in one of the books of the "Ruhi" curriculum, a sequence of courses that are part of an international training institute, designed for people of every background and religion. The discussion that came to mind was a hypothetical one laid out in Book 6 between a young girl named Anna and her friend Emilia, where Anna explains to her friend many important concepts within the Baha'i Faith, including God. The tough part was making this accessible to a child who has only learned English in the past several months and has his own ideas of who God is. Still, I'm glad I opened my mouth and said something rather than backing out and avoiding his important question.

I really love all of them so much. The one on the left has a sweetness about him, I can't put my finger on it, but he just melts my heart. Today at the end of the class, which we do every Saturday and plan to keep doing, he said "Hey! Maybe we can do this again next week!"

missb, "Let's hear it for the boys," missb's blog

{Re-posted with permission}

Sunday, July 22, 2007

On Kevin Locke: A National Treasure of the United States

The Baha'i friends associated with the Brighton Creek Conference Center are again inviting folks to join them on a cruise to Alaska. Reading a newsletter item about this, I learned something about Kevin Locke I didn't know. -gw

Our beloved Baha’i sister, ERICA TOUSSAINT, member of our U.S. Baha’i National Spiritual Assembly, will be taking the place of Kevin Locke on our Cruise. ... The reason Kevin cannot make this Cruise is that he has been asked to speak at the 30th Anniversary of all those named as “National Treasures of the United States. It was in 1990 Kevin Locke was named “Master Traditional Treasure” by former President George Bush Sr. There are only about 10 other individuals receiving this award each year, and this Year’s gathering is to have as many as are still alive come together. He is among such greats as BB King, Wally McCrea – Poet, Earl Scruggs-Banjo & Blue Grass artist as well as a host of others.

"Kevin Locke," uploaded on October 22, 2006 by Vafa Khavari on flickr

On Struggling Against the Forces of Corruption: I will ask Abdu'l-Baha about this

Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha'i Media Bank
DJoker writes movingly about struggling against the 'forces of corruption." Being raised Baha'i is no guarantee that life will be easy. There will be tests. We can pass those tests or not. It takes vigilance and effort. -gw
When I was a child, I often felt Abdu'l - Baha as a distant relative grandfather figure, so I always cried to him whenever mom and dad scolded at me, and sometimes I can see, on the wall so high ( i was a small sized kid back then), Abdu'l-Baha sometimes will smile, sometimes Abdu'l-Baha will look back at me sternly. From there, my little heart knew if Abdu'l-Baha was happy or angry or upset with me. I knew what I had to do. I would sit and pray, just that single prayer that my mother and father had taught me, for so long. "O God, Guide Me, Protect Me, Illumine the Lamp of my Heart, and Make me a brilliant Star. Thou Art the Mighty, and the Powerful". - Abdu'l Baha- . It made me smile, even if the memories are now fading, to an extent only the emotions remain, even if the pictures are missing. ...

I'm united and disunited within...

My head is spinning wild, I'm again turned into a frenzy, and I'm trying my best to control what kind of words that I'll spew out, or what kind of sentences that I'm composing. The fire, the shroud, the sheer form of drowsiness, that access to a matrix unknown to my mind, a realm that's always so near yet so far, for some reason I fear it, yet I want to venture into it.

I have to ... start asking myself: "What does Abdu'l-Baha think of my action? Will He approve it?" Maybe one day I'll again be able to lovingly stare at Abdu'l-Baha's picture, and like a innocent child again ask to be cuddled by Abdu'l-Baha, lovingly. And this time, I'll like to tell Abdu'l-Baha "I have done what Abdu'l-Baha has inspired me to do".


{Reposted with permission}

On Laura and the Girls: Talking about Virtues and Doing Service Projects

Laura Harley is a Minneapolis-based singer-songwriter and a Baha'i. In the following excerpt from her blog she describes a Baha'i-inspired youth gathering she facilitates. (My daughter-in-law provides a similar service in our Baha'i cluster, facilitating a youth night for pre-youth and youth ages 11 to 15, that incredibly important period of time when young people find their bearings spiritually.) -gw

One of my fave things I’m involved in right now (and that inspires me all the time in my songwriting) is a girls’ group my friend and I started for girls ages 11-15. The purpose is to help the girls learn about spiritual development, learn how to articulate and communicate ideas, and learn how to be of service to humanity. So, we talk about virtues, talk about their lives, read stories, memorize quotes about virtues and service, find ways to be of service each day of our lives, and do service projects. It is so much fun and we’ve all learned so much together!

Actually, groups like this (for boys and for girls) are happening all over the world—there is such a need for this type of thing in a world where children and teens have so many pressures and experience so many difficult things—and if you are interested, let me know and I’ll get you all the info you need to start your own or get involved in one. It is a Baha’i-inspired project, and people of all faiths and all backgrounds are involved.

So, the other day I had to miss girls’ group because I have been battling a cold/ virus thingy. I was especially bummed, because we’d planned to clean up a park together that day and we were going to be talking about generosity. Sigh. But, the very next day, just LOOK at what arrived in my mailbox:

Isn’t that sweet??!! The girls sent me a get well card! It totally made my day.



I downloaded some of Laura's great songs from iTunes, including "The Ninth Night," a music video of which can be seen on YouTube that features the Shrine of the Bab. Her music is also available from SNOCAP and CDBaby. -gw


{Re-posted with permission}

Friday, July 20, 2007

On the Love of Baseball and Baha'i: Five times in one inning

Gary Cohen, Mets broadcaster, Wikipedia
Here is the teaser. Read the rest. -gw

Last night my baseball viewing world crash coursed with my religious identity.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

On English Converts to Baha'i: Bit of an eye roll

lavendersparkle looks at mumbo jumbo, both modern and old, and in the process owns up to her own biogotry. Sort of. -gw

Iranian Baha'is fine; English converts to Baha'i, bit of an eye roll.

"Where I own up to my bigotry,"
Welcome to the world of love and laughter
Life may be scary but it's only temporary

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

On Korean Bibles and Baha'i Study Circles Down to One Seeker: It's All Gooood

It looks like we're down to one seeker in our study circle. And it is still wonderful.

We started with the prospect of two seekers and one new Baha'i to participate in our Ruhi Book 1 study class, the first one I have ever tutored. The new Baha'i couldn't work it into her schedule. The two seekers became three by the third week. But for the last two study circles we have been down to one seeker.

There have been several dear Baha'is, including another tutor, there for support over the weeks our circle has been going, although not all of them have been present for every session. But tonight it was just my wife, previous Ruhi 1 graduate Judith, our seeker Myong, and me.

Yet it couldn't have been a better circle. From the devotions to the final discussion. We went a half hour over, and we are the circle that aims to wrap up by 8:30 after only 90 minutes instead of the usual two hours.

Myong said at the end that she wished tomorrow were Wednesday, too, so she could attend Ruhi again. She said she wanted to bring an audio recorder next week so she can make a recording of our study circle and be able to listen to our discussions through the week. She doesn't want to forget any of the content.

Tonight Myong told us about the "large character" Korean language Bible that she had bought only last December. She said she had been wondering if it was OK to still read that Bible now that she is studying the Baha'i Faith. We told her, of course, scripture is scripture, and Baha'is honor all of the Manifestations of God and their respective holy books.

Next week Myong is going to bring her Korean-language Bible to read from for our devotions before our study circle. -gw
"Bible Book House in Gwanghwamun," uploaded on April 6, 2006 by SuzÿQuzÿ on flickr

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

On "God Is Dead": Which God?

Stephen's blog is the consummate node on the 'net. -gw

Nietzsche was right that "God is dead." So long as you realize what God he was speaking about.

Stephen, "Response to 'Is Religion Man-Made?'" Conscientia: one node in the shared network of knowledgeConscientia is the personal blog of Stephen A. Fuqua. He is a senior programmer in St. Paul, MN as well as Regional Coordinator for the United Religions Initiative in North America. He also publishes a periodic newsletter covering the international interfaith movement. -gw

On Work as Worship:The trades and the elegant dance of business as art

Tyler is writing thoughtful reflections on his work experience in Zambia. -gw
Uploaded on October 21, 2006
by Naraoya on flickr
I think art is an abstract concept which runs considerably deeper than is regular talked about. There are the obvious forms of art, such as painting, sculpture, carving, drama, poetry, writing, music, etc. But then there is the other side of art, which, for lack of a proper term, I will call the lay-man’s art. Any contribution to society, or the world as a whole, can be viewed as art. There is an art to the work of a plumber, a carpenter, a chap who just runs a little store. There can be an underlying spiritual essence to their work too. There is certainly the beauty of underlying form with the trades, and the elegant dance of business. It’s all art. Everyone contributes somehow [this notion coincides rather nicely with the Baha’i requirement of engaging in some trade or profession and prohibition on monasticism as we should be anxiously concerned about our fellow human beings – also, while I am on this tangent, in the Baha’i faith, work done in the service of humanity is elevated to the rank of worship right up there with prayer.]

Tyler, "Motivations," Algeo in Zambia

{Re-posted with permission}

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

On Life and Death and Joy: Baha'i Family Life on a Holy Day

jupiterah2 reflects on a special day. -gw
Anyways, today was a fun day. We had the Holy Day celebration today, where there was food and swimming aftyerwards. There is this tradition now in the Baha'i community for all the little little kids, especially the girls, to cling to my brother at the meetings, but since he wasn't there, guess they decided to bug the next available young male, who was Ty. Carmel, the three year old, told him he was going to die soon. It was very funny! :D

Then after that there was Japanese dancing, McDonalds, having Grampa and Grandna coming over for a visit, then ice cream at Dairy Queen.

{Re-posted with permission}

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

On A Remarkable Initiative: The Muslim Network for Baha'i Rights


The Baha'i Faith has its roots in Islam, but considers itself an independent world religion. Baha'is are not Muslims, yet there is a remarkable initiative by Muslims in defending the rights of Baha'is in countries like Egypt. The number of comments to a blog post regarding this remarkable initiative has grown to more than 80 at the time of this posting. Check out the link. If you feel moved, contribute your thoughts to the discussion. -gw

On Gates, Maitreyas, and Miracles: The Story of the Bab

Uploaded on July 9, 2007 by heiwa4126 on flickr
"Gates that Maitreya came through"
I see this picture on flickr and note the caption. I think I know what "Maitreya" means, but I google it anyway. I come up with this definition: "Maitreya is the name of a person of religious stature who claims to be the answer to the world’s quest for peace." I think of The Bab and Baha'u'llah. The Bab means "gate." Here is Bill's post about the Baha'i Holy Day just past and the holy figure associated with it. -gw

Today, July 9th, the Baha'i world commemorates the Martyrdom of the Bab.

The founder of the Baha'i Faith, Baha'u'llah, teaches us that miracles are not to be used as proofs, mostly because they do not work. Do you know anyone who became a Christian because they were told that Christ walked on water, or a Jew because they were told that Moses parted the Red Sea? Miracles only convince the already convinced. They don't even convince eyewitnesses because the Bible is rife with doubters who saw Christ perform miracles.

I don't expect anyone to read the story of the Martyrdom of the Bab and then become a Baha'i.

I simply want to share that to me it is one of the most compelling and moving stories of martyrdom I have ever heard. It is easy to read it and say "Yeah, right, that story was concocted by Baha'is to add miraculous proof in order to gain converts." Well, that would go against the provision against using miracles as proofs, so if we know they don't work then why use them?

What is interesting is that this happened in 1850. As the link above points out, it was reported in newspapers around the world. There were roughly 10,000 witnesses gathered, some of whom recorded their observations. A bit of investigation can reveal non-Baha'i sources. This wasn't something that happened 2,000 years ago. This was something that happened just before the U.S. Civil War, as Harriet Tubman was leading the Underground Railroad. There were 30 States in the U.S. This was after Samuel F.B. Morse sent the words "What Hath God Wrought" across the telegraph lines from Washington D.C. to Baltimore. (If you want some other Baha'i synchronicity, look at what else happened the day before on May 23, 1844.)

So this story isn't irretrievably clouded in antiquity. It is just amazing. And it is about a pure-hearted youth who had a dangerous mission - to bring God's Word to humanity and prepare the way for one who was to come after him. He died for that in a most horrendous way: shot by a firing squad of 750 militia men.

And He died for our sins.

May my spirit be a sacrifice for the wrongs He suffered.

Read more here.

Bill, "He Died for Our Sins," Rodin's Muse

{Re-posted with permission}

Monday, July 09, 2007

On the Baha'i Temple in Wilmette: Not at all creepy or apocalyptical (even in sepia)

Eliz rode her bike up to Wilmette and the Baha'i House of Worship and had a veritable vision in sepia. BTW, Elizabeth, Dwight and family were and still are Baha'is, to the best of my knowledge. -gw

Dwight's family is or was at one time was affiliated with the Baha'i Temple in Wilmette, which is kind of an interesting fact. Not for that reason in any way, but instead to meditate upon images of blooming loti and nascent Phoenixes, I took a bumpy bike ride up there last Sunday. It was quite nice, and not at all creepy or apocalypctical as the photo below might suggest.

Uploaded on July 7, 2007 by Srtalutha on flickr

On "Earth in Balance": Includes Al Gore's reference to the Baha'i Faith

Laura, Marco & Roshan Milone, the blog, makes note of the fact that Al Gore makes reference to the Baha'i Faith in his book Earth in the Balance published in the early 90's. -gw


On Songs for the Ipod: A "Shuffle Songs" Spiritual Mix for the Morning

Since I was given my Ipod, I have been in a daily process of loading (an unloading) songs onto it. Since I love the "shuffle songs" setting more than I love playlists, I am at present keeping on my Ipod what I call my "spiritual music mix" only with the kind of songs I played at our community's devotional meeting at Wright Park for so many years. This is what I listened to on my Ipod this morning. What's on your ipod? -gw

"Walk Over God's Heaven" - Alison Krause & The Cox Family - I Know Who Holds Tomorrow
"Navajo Skip Dance" - Proud Heritage: A Celebration of Traditional American Indian Music
"Suliram (I'll Be There)" - The Weavers - The Weavers at Carnegie Hall
"Bachelor Duet with Lukembi" - Mbuti Pygmies - Mbuti Pygmies of the Ituri Rainforest
"Sanson Ki Mala Pey" - Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & Party - Devotional and Love Songs
"Where Is the Love" - Black Eyed Peas - Elephunk
"He Came Through" - Russ Taff - The Way Home
"Working on a Building" - Brother Joe May - The Great Gospel Men: 27 Classic Performances
"Take Good Care of Your Soul" - Simon Emmerson & Raw Stylus - A Week or Two in the Real World
"Fanfare for the Common Man" - Ettore Etratta & The Baroque Chamber Orchestra - Classical Music 101
"God Is Sufficient Unto Me" - Black Men's Gathering - Amazing Grace
"Forest Power" - Deep Forest - Comparsa
"Get It Together (Reprise)" - Seal - Seal IV
"Au I Vi Dau" - Tran Hai Quang & Hai Yen - Vietnam Dreams & Reality
"Zydeco Boogaloo" - Buckwheat Zydeco - Alligator Stomp, Vol. 2
"Shinanay" - Omar Faruk Tekbilek & Steve Shelan - Alif: Love Supreme
"A Night in Tunisia" - Dizzy Gillespie & Boyd Raeburn & His Orchestra - Ken Burns Jazz Collection
"Ay Chono La" - Youssou N'Dour - Set
"Ay Mashregh-E Jamal E Khoda ... Poem about Baha'u'llah by the Martyr Varqa" - Narges Nouhnejad Fani - Melodies from the City of the Covenant
"Ya Baha'u'llah Abha" - Various Artists - Land of Mystery

Thursday, July 05, 2007

On Lifestyle Changes: More time praying and sharing the Baha'i Writings

"A List of Undone Things," Uploaded on August 24, 2005 by lannadelarosa on flickr

The blogger of Keep the Faith is giving her blog two weeks before reevaluating, but is already into a major lifestyle change. -gw

We are going through a transition period in our house. Basically we are all making a complete lifestyle change. We're trying to spend more time praying and sharing the Baha'i Writings each day.


On the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow: Through a Baha'i Lens

Michael Frank, photographer and Baha'i, has been attending the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow for years and has posted pictures on his Fototime site, including those from the the most recent gathering. The pow wow is described as North America's largest. Click on Michael's site for a feast for the eyes. The colors are astounding! -gw

This year the faces seem more striking, more intense.


On Prayers for Flood Victims: Baha'i Children and Youth Respond in North Texas

"Flooded, Wichita Falls Texas7/03/07"
Uploaded on July 3, 2007 by Nancy Marie on flickr
Flooding provides opportunities for Baha'is to be of service in Wichita Falls TX. -gw

We are going to have our Ruhi Book 4 Study Circle this evening and the children and youth of the Baha'i community will assemble small bags of candy and prayers for the flood victims in town.

Katt, "Pre-travel Tidbits," New Era Pilgrim:
A personal account of a once in a lifetime pilgrimage of a Baha'i family to Haifa, Israel from North Texas. On the 7th of July 2007 (07/07/07) our family will depart from Texas on a journey of a lifetime. Local flooding, heightened travel security and violent conflict are par for the course. We will proceed, God willing!

Monday, July 02, 2007

On the Challenge Facing Religious Leaders: Submerging their theological differences in a great spirit of mutual forebearance

It's been 27 years since the publication of The Promise of World Peace, a Baha'i Statement on Peace, by the Universal House of Justice. How are the religious leaders of the world doing to meet the challenge facing them, as outlined by the world governing body of the Baha'i Faith? -gw

Religious strife, throughout history, has been the cause of innumerable wars and conflicts, a major blight to progress, and is increasingly abhorrent to the people of all faiths and no faith. Followers of all religions must be willing to face the basic questions which this strife raises, and to arrive at clear answers. How are the differences between them to be resolved, both in theory and in practice? The challenge facing the religious leaders of mankind is to contemplate, with hearts filled with the spirit of compassion and a desire for truth, the plight of humanity, and to ask themselves whether they cannot, in humility before their Almighty Creator, submerge their theological differences in a great spirit of mutual forbearance that will enable them to work together for the advancement of human understanding and peace.

The Promise of World Peace
Author: Universal House of Justice
Source: Bahá’í World Centre, October 1985

"Photo: Peace Pagoda Battersea: Built in the mid 1980s to commemorate the people of Hiroshima, the Peace Pagoda in Battersea park South London is one of few pagodas in Europe." Uploaded on December 22, 2006 by Aubrey Stoll on flickr

On Reasons to Drop the Dewey Decimal System: The Religion Classification

I've posted before on Dewey Decimal. David provides reasons why the venerated Dewey Decimal System used in libraries since the 19th Century is being abandoned. -gw

...nine major divisions in the religion classification are for Christian books. Weinberger writes, "Judaism occupies its own whole number (296) but Islam shares its number with two others, Babism and Baha'i (297)."

David, "Goodbye to Dewey?" Daveman's Tech Tips: Computer tips, cool library technologies and random coffee news

"Seattle Central Library: The books are arranged on a spiral, so as to avoid breaking the linearity of the Dewey decimal system into different areas or floors. The Dewey numbers are labeled on the floor." Uploaded on March 12, 2007 by Nick Sherman on flickr