Sunday, September 30, 2007

On Baha'i Cluster Reflection Meeting Eagerness: I got into my prayer mode

What did we do before the era of reflection meetings, devotionals, and study circles? What did we do before we started teaching? I don't even want to think about it. -gw

Today I went to the center rushing to get there by 11 because I was under the impression that the Baha'i Cluster reflection meeting was starting promptly at that time, and saw but a splattering of devotees waiting to say some morning prayers together. Bewildered and lost I stumbled into the devotional to learn that the reflection meeting was next week. Goodness. I got into my prayer mode and we had an amazing time. And one seeker was just so spiritually on tap it was amazing - I really enjoyed talking with her.

On Postmodernism and the Baha'i Faith: All Apologies

Uploaded on April 25, 2007 by stevevance on flickr

Baha'i and postmodernism are hardly synonomous. See "Choosing How to See the World: an Alternative to the Postmodern Perspective."-gw

The Apologetics Study Bible is now out. I contributed essays on The Baha'i Faith and Postmodernism.

Douglas, "The Apologetics Study Bible," The Constructive Curmudgeon:This is a forum for reflection on culture, ethics, philosophy, and theology. The views posted by me here are my own, and do not represent any institution with which I may be affiliated. Being a curmudgeon has nothing to do with rudeness or incivility, but means the willingness to sniff out the truth and expose lies and spin as best one can in humility

{Photo licensed under Creative CommonsAttribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic}

On the 50th Anniversary of the Baha'i Community of Campinas, Brazil: An Historical Record in Photographs

These historical photos from Brazil are extraordinary. -gw

Fotos exposta de 12 à 27 de junho de 2007 no Centro de Convivência Cultural de Campinas na comemoração dos 50 anos da Comunidade Bahá'í de Campinas.

On the Meeting Between the Iranian President and American Religious Leaders: Baha'is supported efforts at dialogue even through not allowed to attend

To dialogue is the Baha'i way. -gw

According to The New YorkTimes, representatives of the Baha’i faith, a persecuted religious minority in Iran, supported efforts at dialogue even though they were not allowed to attend the Sept. 26 event. The New York Times reported that “the Iranian side refused to come if the Bahais were there, said Kit Bigelow, director of external affairs, National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais of the United States.”

"This farmer's barn was renovated and dedicated in 2005 as a Mennonite Church in Schaumburg, Illinois, near Chicago (USA)." Uploaded on July 4, 2006 by Springsun on flickr

{Photo licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic}

On Interracial Marriages: The Baha'i Faith eases the tests

The marriage of Louis Gregory and Louisa Mathews set the standard for Baha'is. -gw

Baha’i faith eases the tests that come with interracial marriage
September 28, 2007 1:00 p.m. CST
COLUMBIA — At first Debra Byndom was reluctant to let her son marry a white woman. Tyree Byndom’s past relationships with white women made his mother believe this one wouldn’t work. Tyree is black, and Jesca, the woman he had been dating, is white. ...

Uploaded on June 1, 2007 by myglesias on flickr

On Baha'i-inspired Stuff from Divinitee: The door has been open since 1844

My friend Oscar has started designing and selling some tshirts and things, inspired by the Baha'i Faith. I might get a couple shirts. Please pass on this link to help him out!

Rory, "Divinitee - Baha'i inspired stuff," From Under My Sculpt

OK, Rory. -gw

On Trying Something Different: Jamie decided to attend the Baha'i Junior Youth program they offer

Devotions and children's classes are two of the three core activities for Baha'is, and are open to all. -gw

The younger boys and I are attending the Family Hour at the Dharma Center again. We've tried, over the years, to make this a family ritual, but it is met with just too much resistance, and it's not something I'm willing to force over and over. I've known all along that there is a very thriving Baha'i' community in town, so I decided to ask a friend who participates to tell me more. Jamie, Jeremiah and I did some reading and thought it was something we could try. All 6 of us attended the devotional a couple sundays ago, and we had a very lovely time. The devotional was about 15-20 minutes long, and all but Kellen sat quietly. The food and conversation afterward was fabulous. Jamie decided to attend the Junior Youth program they offer and had a good time with the other teens. Jeremiah is reluctant to try the children's class but became more willing when I discovered there are two other boys his age.

The Pancake Goddess, "Baha'i and Dharma Center Family Hour,"Pancake Goddess in the House of Boys

{Re-posted with permission}

"Griddle Goodness," uploaded on May 27, 2007 by Danny Lakeboy on flickr

{Photo licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic}

On Black Thought and Black America: Wellspring of the light

Phillipe Copeland's Baha'i Thought turned two earlier this month. This is one powerful blog! The Baha'i blogosphere is greatly enriched through Phillipe's untiring efforts. -gw

Bahá’í Thought and Black America

"O thou who hast an illumined heart! Thou art even as the pupil of the eye, the very wellspring of the light, for God's love hath cast its rays upon thine inmost being and thou hast turned thy face toward the Kingdom of thy Lord." - From the Baha'i Sacred Writings

Phillipe, a clinical social worker, covered the recent annual conference of the Baha'i Association of Mental Health Professionals. Although I am an MHP myself, I have never attended, I am ashamed to say, and so I very much appreciated his overview and pics. -gw


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

In Memory of Dr Varqa: Photos on Flickr

"With Hand of the Cause of God, Dr. `Alí-Muhammad Varqá"

Uploaded on January 12, 2007 by Man United on flickr

"Dr. Varqa, Members of the Universal House of Justice,
Members of the International Teaching Center and the Continental Board of Counsellors "
Uploaded on January 1, 2006 by Man United on flickr

On Baha'i Studies in Spiritual Psychology: 皆さん興味があったら読んでみてね。

This collection of papers by Professor Rhett Diessner, psychologist at the Lewis-Clark State College of Lewiston, Idaho, and published in this volume, promotes the two Baha'i principles of "independent investigation" and "the harmony of science and religion."

This book looks good. gw

お帰りなさい。 8 hours ago by Nana 伯父さんから本を借りてきたようだ。なんか分厚い本だな。伯父さん、今年自分が出版した本をちゃっかりとQちゃんに持たせているぞ。皆さん興味があったら読んでみてね。 PSYCHE AND EROS: Baha'i Studies in a Spiritual Psychology. By Rhett Dissner.

遊びに来まっし~Homestay at NANA's House -

On the Power of Prayer: Turning Abasement into Glory

Liz remembers the power of prayer in a post of reflection. -gw

I remember how when I was a little girl, I was absolutely afraid to go down into the basement of our house. The only way I could get down those stairs was to say one of the first Baha'i prayers my mother taught me. "Is there any Remover of difficulties save God? Say: Praised be God! He is God! All are His servants, and all abide by His bidding!"

Liz, "Put the 'P' in Percolator," Los Angelista's Guide To The Pursuit Of Happiness: Musings on life and love in the City of Angels as we dive into the ever changing ocean of the spirit

Perhaps God would have turned her basement into glory if she had read the following prayer. (Oldest Baha'i pun in the world, I know.) -gw

Thou art He Who changeth through His bidding abasement into glory ...

Photo: "BasementStair," uploaded on May 21, 2005 by BaronBrian on flickr
{Photo is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic}

On "Is God a Delusion?" Stanford Event: Follow-up Reflections

Of the previous Baha'i Views post "On The New Atheism Reconsidered: Is God a Delusion? Stanford event offering"

SAM said...
"Sounds interesting. Could you share a few words on it, afterwards?"

The posts marked with an asterisk below are by a Stanford student who attended Dr.Steven Phelps talk. The student, Nikhil Ravi, is himself an extraordinary soul, if the quality of his postings are any indication. Dr Phelps is the author of a review of Dawkins' book The God Delusion on One Country, the Baha'i online newsletter. -gw

*God - the unknowable essence
A blessing for the journey
The new atheism
The source of morality
Something to check out
Living in a state of prayer
Be the change

Monday, September 24, 2007

On the Controversy at Columbia: Putting the Name of the Baha'i Faith in Front of a Watching World

"Columbia University - Iran Protest "
Uploaded on September 24, 2007 by keith.wick on flickr

Does not the controversy surrounding the presentation by the Iranian President at Columbia University today put in front of a watching world the name of the Faith in a most dramatic fashion?

As President Ahmadinejad rises to address the student body, Columbia President Lee Bollinger must rise in defense of every Baha'i student expelled from an Iranian university. This is a defining moment for our new century.

Makini Boothe, a Barnard College senior who spoke on behalf of Baha’i students, said her faith believes that “from the clash of opinions comes the spark of truth,” and so she supported Mr. Ahmadinejad’s right to speak.

And so I ask you -- (applause) -- and so I ask you, why have women, members of the Baha'i faith, homosexuals and so many of our academic colleagues become targets of persecution in your country?

OK, I've been MIA because of my sister's wedding, midterms, and Ahmadinejad's visit to Columbia. He's the President of Iran, where Baha'i denial of education continues as a subtle persecution that is going unnoticed

MODERATOR: We have many questions regarding the Baha'i religious minority in Iran. Many of our questioners say that the Baha'i minority has been deprived of their human rights. What would your response be to that?
AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): In our constitution, Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Zoroastrianism are recognized as the official religions.

He has just called Ahmadinejad a "petty and cruel dictator" and is asking him about oppression of women, academics, Baha'i, the press, and other minorities and dissidents.

{Photo licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic}

On Becoming Knowledgeable about Problems and Solutions: Not waiting for top-down strategies

Presentations at the Association of Baha'i Studies Conference in August were a source of great stimulation to the 1200 attendees. -gw

Although not a member of the Baha'i Faith, Professor Homer-Dixon said he agrees with Baha'is that individuals must become knowledgeable about problems and solutions rather than waiting for leaders to provide top-down strategies.

Baha'i World News Service,"Rebirth can follow breakdown, says best-selling author," re-posted in Sorry Gnat: World Citizen Resource yenta for relationships, jobs, rent on the planet of Haiku, book suggestions, writing groups, people of note, guide to Baha'i Writings, Happenings

On the Passing of Hand of the Cause of God Varqa: Baha'i bloggers remember

Here is a listing of blog posts on the passing of Hand of the Cause of God Varqa. -gw

Dr. 'Alí-Muhammad Varqá (1912 - 2007)

in loving memory

Dr. 'Alí-Muhammad Varqá

Fallece el Mano de la Causa de Dios Dr. 'Ali-Muhammad Varqa

Heavy Baha'i stuff

dr. ‘alí-muhammad varqá

Dr. Ali Muhammad Varqa

I went to the funeral today for Dr. Varqa

The passing of a link with Baha’i history

Baha'i world loses most distinguished member

Photo: "Hand of the Cause of God , Dr. 'Ali-Muhammad Varqa addressing the Eighth International Bahá'í Convention."

On Attending a Baha'i Interfaith Devotional: Yom Kipper was quite special

Going upstairs for devotions is always a good thing. -gw

Yom Kippur was quite special last night as I attended a Baha'i interfaith devotional upstairs at Cathy's.

mambolica, posted on 2007.09.23 at 01:36, Meandotherthings: Not quite the real thing

On the Persecution of Baha'is in Iran: What is the Hojjatieh Society?

The fanatical opposition to the Baha'i Faith taken up by a secret organization known as Hojjatieh formed in the 1950's in Iran is described in Section 2 of a piece in The Middle East and Other Musings, subtitled "Who is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?" .

Here is what Baha' has to say about the Hojjatieh Society. -gw

WHAT IS THE HOJJATIEH SOCIETY? Founded in 1953 as a specifically anti-Bahá'í 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... More>

On Exploring the Neighborhood and Finding the Post Office: It is now the local Baha'i meeting house

We decided last week to explore our own neighborhood this weekend, and that we did. We live in the St. Johns area of north Portland, and we realized there were some new shops and other things around that we hadn't noticed before ... byroncaloz, being the big history geek that he is, told me all about the building that used to be the post office and is now the local Baha'i meeting house.

Sister Medusa, "Weekend Report," There will be no foolish wand-waving or silly incantations in this journal

Friday, September 21, 2007

On Songs of the Same Name from My "Spiritual Music" Playlist: Revival

Baha'u'llah came to revive mankind spiritually. Among the songs on my "spiritual music" playlist, are these three with the same name. In these three there is a sort of "unity in diversity," to my ipod-lovin' ears at least. -gw

"Revival," Rev Horton Heat, Revival
"Revival," The Allman Brothers, Stand Back: The Anthology
"Revival," Me Phi Me, Reality Bites

On the Southern Baptist and the Baha'i from Birth: A Tragic Romance

Last spring, I witnessed a tragic romance. My roommate who was a Southern Baptist briefly dated a woman who was raised Baha'i from birth.

Above are the opening two sentences to a compelling blog post by a blogger who writes cogently about his autism and his own religious deconversion in this and other posts. -gw

On Gratefulness: Thanks to Baha'u'llah

A testimonial. -gw

I like that I'm a Baha'i. :) The Baha'i faith has so much to offer and has allowed me to see what I have to offer... and what those around me have to offer. The world is a much more beautiful place in my eyes, thanks to Baha'u'llah. :)

I'm a short little brown girl.
"You're it!"
bloggin' the free world.

The Shrine of Baha'u'llah
Uploaded on 6 July 2007
Bassi Baba

Thursday, September 20, 2007

On a Baha'i Response to the Academic Fear of Faith: We gave them chocolate

The Baha'i Society at Galway has caught on to the power of chocolate. -gw
Uploaded on March 19, 2006 by Michael McGonagle on flickr

But really the only thing interesting that happened recently was going to Galway to help recruit... for the Baha'i society in the university there, that was truly brilliant. In 4 and a half hours my self and the 2 other folk I was working with must have introduced like 80 new people to the faith, 40 of them joined the society and half of them were genuinely interested in the faith, 3 of them were instantly enamoured. There was in some folk the obvious academic fear of faith and in that case we gave them chocolate, praised there attempt to protect themselves from scary stuff and told them the name of the website and bid them have a lovely day. The funniest thing that happened, in my opinion, was early in the day when a group of first years came up to enquire as to how to pronounce that word and we roped them into hearing about the faith. There was 3 guys and two girls and one of the guys was a long haired individual holding the communist manifesto in one hand and waring a Che T-shirt. This guy asked me, once I'd explained the unity of science and religion principle, how we felt about evolution, I was mid explanation when I had to sign up someone that one of my cohorts was speaking with, I said hang on 2 seconds, started the process and this guys yells "How can you believe that?" and tries to storm of expecting all his mates to follow, his friends immediately scold him for being close minded and then comeback late having deposited him somewhere. Two of the girls singed up and one of the guys and one of the dudes said he liked it but wasn't comfortable getting involved with religious stuff without more research, I again gave him and my Email and said if he needed any more info than is on that brilliant site I'd be happy to help. We gave them more chocolate and bid them farewell. ... Peace out, God Bless and Allah'u'Abha.

Groovetroll, "And now for something completly different....," Ah...what?

{Re-posted with permission}

On Preparing for Baha'i Marriage: What does it mean to become "even as one soul"

The labels to Tia's post say it all: ", , , , , ." -gw

Needless to say, marriage has definitely been on my mind! Alex and I have had many exploratory discussions about what we think we can guess about what marriage will be like. (Got that? "...what we can guess..." Ha. That's right!) This is all in the light of the Writings of the Baha'i Faith, which means these conversations can get pretty involved. "What does it mean to become "even as one soul" while recognizing that each partner will always have an independent relationship with God?" What is our responsibility, then, in terms of assisting in each other's personal growth and success? What is the significance and the implications of marriage being an actual "Institution of God"? What can we understand about this step in our lives now, and what do we simply need to experience?
{Re-posted with permission}

On Environmental Pollution: Remembering a Month in Linfen, China, for a Baha'i-Inspired NGO

In a post reflecting on environmental pollution Iguana remembers spending a month in Linfen, China, at the invitation of Baha'is. -gw

I was randomly browsing the Internet during my lunch hour when I just happened to see a report about the 10 most polluted places in the world. I clicked on it and flipped through some initial pictures and reports until I stopped dead in my tracks. You see, one of these underprivileged places just happens to be the very city I spent a month in last year: Linfen, China.

Racing through my memories gradually brought back images of darkened noon-time skies, masked faces bustling around town and billowing smoke stacks littering the countryside like post-modern trees. ...

"By the end of this year, the city of Linfen plans to shut down 160 of 196 of its iron foundries and 57 of 153 of its coal producing plants. Small, highly polluting plants will be replaced with larger, cleaner, more regulated facilities."

One thing is to read these words on a screen, another is to drink that water and breathe that air. I did that for a month but many of the friends I left behind there have done it all of their lives, and continue to do so.

I spent a month training English teachers at the invitation of a Baha’i inspired NGO that specializes in education for development. I had lived in Chinese culture as an adolescent, but I hadn’t remembered the warmth and brightness of the people that I experienced during this visit. I made a lot of special friends, very astute and sincere people. As you can imagine, I also experienced a lot of culture shock, especially with the toiletless bathrooms and the general absence of children. Aside from these, most of the culture shock I experienced was the good kind that made me reflect on my own culture, and question it. ...

All of these memories make it harder for me to swallow that this admirable culture flowers under such oppressive air contamination. The current economic growth imperative, increasingly driven by western influence, needs to be rethought to include and celebrate all of the cultural aspects that make these people so unique and wonderful. Otherwise, they will soon clash, and the growth imperative, at least as it is currently conceived and practiced, doesn’t stand to lose.

Iguana, "Linfen China," Iguana Journal

{Re-posted with permission}

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

On an Interfaith Conference Held in a Mosque in Lisbon: Baha'is Participate Along with the Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama receives a souvenir with the symbols of all religions
Mr. Mário Marques of the Portuguese Baha'i community (right) saluting the Dalai Lama
From Marco of Povo de Baha comes this wonderful report. -gw

Dear Friends,

Last Sunday we had an Interfaith Conference here in Lisbon. It took place at Lisbon Central Mosque and we had the Dalai Lama with us. Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and Baha’is were present. Many politicians, scholars, journalists also attended this conference.
The Tibetan Leader expressed several ideas very similar to the Baha’i Faith: we should not judge religions by the mischievous acts of some believers; we have to respect every human being because he/she is a divine creation. Mr Mário Soares, former President of Republic and Chairman of the Religious freedom committee was also present.
The Muslim hosts were very kind to all the people present. Closing the Conference, the Chairman of the Islamic community quoted Ibn Abari: "My heart has become capable of every form: it is a pasture for gazelles and a convent for Christian monks, And a temple for idols, and the pilgrim's Ka'ba, and the tables of the Tora and the book of the Koran. I follow the religion of Love, whichever way his camels take. My religion and my faith is the true religion."
The Baha’i representative included a prayer in his speech. This was a unique moment: how many times a baha’i prayer was hear inside a Muslim mosque? This world is changing faster than we imagine.
The following video is about this conference. Part of it is in Portuguese and part of it is in English. Please note the sense of humour of the Dalai Lama when he mentions the Baha’is.
Greetings from Lisbon,
Marco Oliveira

On the Landlubbers Attending Baha'i Society: It was talk like a pirate day

Uploaded on September 19, 2007 by tomeppy on flickr

For this post by Isikenai the text is fun, but her photos even funner. -gw

it was talk like a pirate day today. Did YOU contribute? I certainly did. I was writing the minutes for Baha'i' Society (I'm the secretary) and although I wrote all the minutes part in proper secretarial english, I wrote the starting time and attendee details in pirate. "Arrr, thar meeting be startin' at 6:02pm. The landlubbers thar be attending be Adib Jamali... etc." And I ended with a nice "Avast, ye scurvy sea-dogs!" I wonder if the Chairman will notice before he sends it out to the rest of the committee :D
{Image is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic}

On Accepting the Baha'i Faith: Guru Nitya was happy

Laina shares her personal story of finding the Faith in her review of a remarkable video and gives credit where credit is due. -gw

Guru Nitya was happy when I told him that I accepted the Baha'i Faith as my path of spirituality. He has passed on and remains my dearest teacher in my heart.

Laina Raveendran Greene, "Science and Religion," Unity Blog

On the Use of Blogs to Support the Institute Process: An Example from the Houston Baha'i Cluster

Blogs are used by many Baha'i custers to communicate with the friends locally and provide inspiration to Baha'is and others around the WHOLE Earth. An example from the Houston area. -gw

"How a family rose to action in their neighborhood"

Children Classes & Junior Youth Groups

"houston tx," uploaded on March 18, 2006 by brighter than sunshine on flickr
{Photo licensed under Creative Commons, Some Rights Reserved}

On Islam and the Baha'i Faith: It's, you know ... similar

Cuban B is fasting during Ramadan. -gw

even though refraining from judging the spiritual status of others who did not fast, I knew that I had to do so. At which point the mind got decidedly tricky on me, trying to talk me out of Islam itself. Maybe I should be Baha'i? It's, you know... similar.
Cuban B, "A Ramadan Report," Random Thoughts on Random Thinking

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

On the Evolution of Evolution: Implications for Understanding How Religion Evolves

"WIE: The REAL Evolution Debate
Evolution: Science vs. Spirit?
Here, we’ve spread out the 12 schools of evolutionary thought along a spectrum from science to spirit, with scientific materialism on the far left and religious determinism on the far right."
Uploaded on January 13, 2007 by ~C4Chaos on flickr

The Baha'i worldview incorporates the concept of progressive revelation and the evolution of religion. How do religions evolve, change and adapt? Bruce Deverell in John Bryden's meaty Vox Cosmicos looks at how our undertanding of evolution itself is changing in trying to answer the question. -gw

The theory of evolution has been evolving ....

Some biologists postulate that:

*selection occurs at many levels;
*evolution has long periods of relatively little change indispersed with bursts of rapid speciation (punctuated equilibrium);
*natural selection has many different causes;
*internal drives ... and novel actions of organisms can initiate evolutionary changes ...

How does the present thinking about the theory of evolution in biology affect your thinking about how religions evolve and how they change and adapt?

Bruce Deverell, "A Creature Adapted for Wonder," in John Bryden's Vox Cosmicos

{Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0}

On Sharing Is Caring: Baha'is in Newsweek and a Ruhi Discovery

Good find, Neysan! -gw
And did you miss this entry? Check it out. -gw

"Bhagavad Gita: As it Is," uploaded on September 28, 2005 by aarthyr on flickr

Monday, September 17, 2007

On Mentions of the Baha'i Faith: Over Lunch in Ghana

Andrea goes to Ghana and learns about the Baha'i Faith. -gw

we went to lunch, talked a lot about ourselves--I learned Becky's mom died when she was 13, and about her religion, Baha'i.

Andrea, "Take Two," Alive With Such Possibilities

The Tower at Legon Hill, University of Ghana
Uploaded on May 21, 2007 by martey on flickr

{Photo licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 }

On Mormon Baptism and the Universality of the Baha'i Faith: A Seeker's Story

"Korean grapes"
Uploaded on 2 September 2006 on flickr








"Nauvoo Baptisms," Uploaded on November 15, 2006 by crowderb on flickr

A few hours after our return from a five-day camping vacation, Myong came over to visit. With a gift, a box of grapes she bought at the Korean grocery story. Sweet, she said, and were they!

Myong continues in her study of the Baha'i Faith, and a month or two ago was baptised at the LDS Church. The congregation has been praying to find someone who can play piano for them. As she explained, it is for social reasons that she participates in LDS church events.

She recognizes the universality of the Baha'i Faith. Our response has been loving and supportive of her, she said, unlike the response of the Christian lady on her paper route who was critical and negative when told she had been baptised by the Mormons.

She will continue in our study circle and take in the monthly fireside at Chris and Shadi's and other Baha'i gatherings. She encourages me to continue to put something out for her to pick up each morning when she delivers our newspaper, material about the Faith for her perusual, as has been my habit for many months now.

This morning I put out a copy "To the World's Religious Leaders," the 2002 letter from the Universal House of Justice. The last sentence of this paragraph caught my eye. -gw

There are certainly wide differences among the world’s major religious traditions with respect to social ordinances and forms of worship. Given the thousands of years during which successive revelations of the Divine have addressed the changing needs of a constantly evolving civilization, it could hardly be otherwise. Indeed, an inherent feature of the scriptures of most of the major faiths would appear to be the expression, in some form or other, of the principle of religion’s evolutionary nature. What cannot be morally justified is the manipulation of cultural legacies that were intended to enrich spiritual experience, as a means to arouse prejudice and alienation. The primary task of the soul will always be to investigate reality, to live in accordance with the truths of which it becomes persuaded and to accord full respect to the efforts of others to do the same.

"April 2002, TO THE WORLD’S RELIGIOUS LEADERS," The Universal House of Justice

{Bottom photo licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0}

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

On Working with Baha'i Refugees from Iran: More Emotional

foodinmybag works for AmeriCorps. -gw

I worked with a family from Iran today, just arrived about a month ago. One would think working with refugees from some of the worlds poorest countries would be the hardest part of the job, but I honestly think this was more emotional than most of the other families I've had to work with. ...

I researched their religion. They practice the Baha'i Faith. It's so incredibly beautiful. It unites all the worlds major religions into one.

Mentally I feel tested. I can't believe I am just starting out. I want to go to the Middle East very soon.

{Re-posted with permission}
"Iran/ a passage to the paradise," Uploaded on April 14, 2006 by HORIZON on flickr

On 9-11: A Reflection on the Day


It is September 11th. There are a lot of reflections on the day out there. Here is one. -gw

I met a woman who was raised in the Baha'i who says Muhammad is one of the nine manifestations of her god. Being Christian at the time, I found that hard to believe because Christians believe Jesus is God and Muslims deny this claim and ...

"September 11th the Post"

On Truthfulness and Sunflowers: P.S. Did your dad really have a lie detector?

I love the Mana song "Truthfulness" which incorporates the text "Truthfulness is the foundation of all human virtues," a verse which Ruhi Book participants come to know so well. There is a funny truthfulness story embeded in the following post. -gw

ps. did your dad really have a lie detector?

golriz, "saturday with sufjan," she's only happy in the sun

Hear Mana singing 2 minutes of the song "Truthfulness" by clicking on the following. -gw

On the Blogrolls of Baha'is: New Online Game, "Guess the Baha'i Blogger"

Blogging is another way by which bonds between people are developed, a sense of communuity is enhanced, and unity established in the world. A blog is a node on the 'net. Regular blog-readers become aware of the connections between blogs and bloggers. Those connections are evident when we peruse a blogger's blogroll on the sidebar. Blogrolls are not always kept up to date, but they still are a reflection of the uniqueness of the individual blogger.

(When blogrolls aren't kept up, it's referred to as a "cold in the node." Just a joke, folks.... Heck, I've hired my son to bring my blogroll up-to-date. Hope he gets to it soon.)

Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye! This is to announce an new online game here at Baha'i Views, which may be offered occasionally. Below is the blogroll of a personal blog. Guess the Baha'i blogger! -gw

Love from Leila
Baha'i Views
Pieter's Blog
Flitzy Phoebie
Bamboo Village Press
Heather Cardin
Wendi's Wanders
Barnabus Quotidianus
Pan Shiyi
Du Sufen
Entropy Pieces
Life with Hannah and Lily

Monday, September 10, 2007

On Religious Curiosity and Questioning: Is it a Baha'i with No Doubt or No Doubt a Baha'i?

In a recent comment on this blog Anonymous observed the following. -gw
From what I've read (on this blog and elsewhere), Baha'is seem to take a whole heck of a lot on faith. Is there no room for curiosity, questioning, doubt in your religion?

One of my favorite things to note about the Baha'i Calendar is that there is a month of "Questions," but no month of "Answers." -gw

The 15th month of the Baha’i Calendar called Masa’il (Questions) starts December 11th at sundown. The Baha’i (Badi) Calendar months are named after attributes or qualities of God.

Having a questioning mind is extoled in the Baha'i Writings. Doubt and uncertainty, however, characterize our age. It strikes a chord in us that even a Mother Theresa doubted. Doubt is a part of the human condition and affects Baha'is as well, of course. After all, are we not all finite beings? Becoming a believer involves a leap of Faith. God gives us much reassurance. We say our prayers. Steadfastness in the face of doubt is admirable.
I remember one of my Baha'i teachers telling me many years ago, "The Baha'i Faith is the best thing I've come across so far." I have been saying that myself ever since then. Here are a few excerpts to mark the beginning of a discussion. -gw

It is always through questioning and mature thought that we can arrive at the root of everything .
The Light of Divine Guidance (Volume 2)
Author: Shoghi Effendi
Source: Bahá’í Publishing Trust of Germany (Bahá’í-Verlag), 1985 edition

Abrogation of specific laws and ordinances of previous Dispensations, which prescribed:
... f. Prohibition on questioning the Founder of the Faith

The Kitáb-i-Aqdas
Author: Bahá’u’lláh
Source: Bahá’í World Centre, 1992 edition

Whenever thou art desiring to talk and answer questions, turn thy face toward the Kingdom of Abha and beseech for assistance; then loosen thy tongue. Thou wilt behold at that time how thou art able to answer all the questions!
Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas
Author: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
Source: Bahá’í Publishing Committee, 1909 edition

The Independent Investigation of Truth: Baha'u'llah emphasizes the fundamental obligation of human beings to acquire knowledge with their "own eyes and not through the eyes of others." One of the main sources of conflict in the world today is the fact that many people blindly and uncritically follow various traditions, movements, and opinions. God has given each human being a mind and the capacity to differentiate truth from falsehood. If individuals fail to use their reasoning capacities and choose instead to accept without question certain opinions and ideas, either out of admiration for or fear of those who hold them, then they are neglecting their basic moral responsibility as human beings.

Eventually, as an ever-evolving civilization exhausts its spiritual sources, a process of disintegration sets in, as it does throughout the phenomenal world. Turning again to analogies offered by nature, Bahá’u’lláh compares this hiatus in the development of civilization to the onset of winter. Moral vitality diminishes, as does social cohesion. Challenges which would have been overcome at an earlier age, or been turned into opportunities for exploration and achievement, become insuperable barriers. Religion loses its relevance, and experimentation becomes increasingly fragmented, further deepening social divisions. Increasingly, uncertainty about the meaning and value of life generates anxiety and confusion. Speaking about this condition in our own age Bahá’u’lláh says:

We can well perceive how the whole human race is encompassed with great, with incalculable afflictions. We see it languishing on its bed of sickness, sore-tried and disillusioned. They that are intoxicated by self-conceit have interposed themselves between it and the Divine and infallible Physician. Witness how they have entangled all men, themselves included, in the mesh of their devices. They can neither discover the cause of the disease, nor have they any knowledge of the remedy. They have conceived the straight to be crooked, and have imagined their friend an enemy.
Author: Bahá’í International Community