Wednesday, October 31, 2007

On Human Rights in Iran: The European Parliament is resolved in its determination

And another valuable report from Marco in Lisbon. -gw

Dear Baha’i friends, I thought you might like to know this. Last week, on the 25 October the European Parliament approved a resolution on Iran.

This resolution expresses concern about the overall situation of Human Rights in Iran, referring the status of several religious and ethnic minorities. The specific situation of the Baha’is is mentioned twice.

The European Parliament remember us that "members of the religious community of the Baha'iscannot exercise their faith, are exposed to severe persecution and deprived of virtually allcivil rights (e.g. property rights, access to higher education), and whereas their religious sites are being vandalised"

And also "Calls on the authorities to respect internationally recognised legal safeguards withregard to persons belonging to religious minorities, officially recognised or otherwise;

condemns the current disrespect of minority rights and calls for minorities to be able toexercise all rights granted by the Iranian Constitution and international law; further callson the authorities to eliminate all forms of discrimination on religious or ethnic grounds or against persons belonging to minorities, such as Kurds, Azeris, Arabs, Baluchis and Baha'is;

calls in particular for the de facto ban on practising the Baha'i faith to be lifted....

Warmest baha’i greetings,
Marco Oliveira, Povo de Baha

On News from Indonesia: Alarm bells or Ring the bells!

Dear Marco of Povo de Baha writes the following. -gw

Dear Friends, Some of you may have seen this:
31 people abandon Islam to become bahaists in Donggala

This seems to me like an alarm bell against apostasy in a Muslim country. After persecutions in Iran, religious apartheid in Egypt, are we going to receive bad news from Indonesia? Just wondering...

Warmest greetings,
Marco Oliveira

What's interesting to me are these two Google ads that ran directly below the article in question when I first clicked over. -gw

Former Muslim Speaks Out
Man raised as Muslim now sees Jesus in a different light.

Find The Perfect Religion
Which religion is the best for you? Find out with the religion test.

Ads by

On Baha'i Thought: Blow Up or Grow Up - Word Up!

Word up! Yup, according to Wikipedia, Word Up is...

the name of a 1986 R&B album by Cameo,
Word Up! (song), a song off that album, also covered by Melanie B and Korn,
Word Up (game), a computer pub game, popular in the UK,

but I'm using the term in the following manner:

An exclamation is certainly in order. Congratulations to Phillipe for where he is taking, and where he has taken, Baha'i Thought. -gw

Baha'i Thought is entering adulthood with its own domain name No more of this blogspot stuff. You should be able to visit the blog at the new url in the next couple of days. People who go to the old one will be forwarded to the new one so no worries. Spread the word. This little blog is about to blow up.

Phillipe Copeland

On Visiting Chicago: Ein Besuch zum Baha'i Bügel

No visit to Chicago is complete without a visit to the Baha'i House of Worship. -gw

Ich bin gerade von der Chicago Tereise zurückgekommen. Lassen Sie mich Ihnen, meinem reisenden Tee-partied Begleiter des Tees erklären ich unter der Tabelle! Wir hatten eine große Zeit und eine Säge soviel und schlossen ein:

2 volle Nachmittag Tees
4 Speicher des Tees bar/cafe/retail-type
2 cupcakeries
Ein großer Film (Bella)
Eine Chicago Pizza
Einiges geht in die Stadt und entlang die ausgezeichnete Meile
Eine Reise zur nordwestlichen Universität
Ein Besuch zum Baha'i Bügel
2 Reisen zum Händler Joes
Eine Jagdexpedition für "Webkins", das in einer glücklichen Überraschung beendete
Eine Reise zu Ikea
Und Lose Spaß!

"Giordano's PIzza Chicago" uploaded on October 1, 2007 by Josh Bancroft on flickr,

On Multiple Dimensions of Globalization: A Baha'i's View

Written on the wall of The Largest Baha'i Facebook Group Ever on Facebook is a link to the following blog. I downloaded the powerpoint. It's powerful. -gw

You can download Arthur’s entire powerpoint presentation by clicking here. (6 Mbytes)

On MP3 Downloads: Baha'i Audio Books

Photo: Baha'is On Facebook. :) group

Good tip from Amid, a member of Baha'is On Facebook. :), who left a message on the wall of that group. -gw

Awesome audiobooks:

Bahá'í Audio Books: You may listen to the audio books on your computer, download them onto an mp3 player.... Thanks to the US's and UK's Bahá'í Service for the Blind for allowing us to use these tapes! The recordings are in the process of being re-digitized at a higher quality level. The file sizes are larger but the quality is significantly better.

Baha'i Audio Books, Baha'i Study

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

On "The New World Order": It's been around longer than you may realize

This is a photo of a t-shirt. Thanks to the blogger who took the picture and gave me permission to run this. He had nice things to say about the Baha'i who gave him the t-shirt, by the way.
I'm running this here as my nod to Halloween. It's kinda pumkin-y. Note the use of orange. And there is this round object with light coming out from it. Close enough to pumpkin for me. And not at all creepy.

“The world’s equilibrium,” [Baha'u'llah] explains, “hath been upset through the vibrating influence of this Most Great, this new World Order. Mankind’s ordered life hath been revolutionized through the agency of this unique, this wondrous System, the like of which mortal eyes have never witnessed.” ...

Dearly-beloved friends! This New World Order, whose promise is enshrined in the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, whose fundamental principles have been enunciated in the writings of the Center of His Covenant, involves no less than the complete unification of the entire human race. ...

Upon the consummation of this colossal, this unspeakably glorious enterprise—an enterprise that baffled the resources of Roman statesmanship and which Napoleon’s desperate efforts failed to achieve—will depend the ultimate realization of that millennium of which poets of all ages have sung and seers have long dreamed. Upon it will depend the fulfillment of the prophecies uttered by the Prophets of old when swords shall be beaten into ploughshares and the lion and the lamb lie down together. It alone can usher in the Kingdom of the Heavenly Father as anticipated by the Faith of Jesus Christ. It alone can lay the foundation for the New World Order visualized by Bahá’u’lláh ...

Haifa, Palestine
March 11, 1936

in The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh

Author: Shoghi Effendi
Source: US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1991 first pocket-size edition

Baha'i Back at Beloit Recalls Bosch Baha'i Campus Associations/Baha'i Clubs Weekend: That's my headline

Baha'i youth at Bosch feeling their oats Uploaded on July 27, 2006 by whalesalad on flickr. {Photo licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic}

Baha'i Back at Beloit Recalls Recent Bosch Baha'i Campus Associations/Baha'i Clubs Weekend. That's my headline, and I'm not changing it. Here's the link with pix from Quinn's Bel-wah Life. -gw

On Faith Beyond Walls: Rebequa left a wonderful feeling in the room

Rebecca was the speaker? No wonder there was a wonderful feeling in the room. -gw

I went to the interfaith partnership / Faith Beyond Walls Banquet dinner last night. It was GREAT! Rebequa Murphy was the speaker, as the host group this year were the Baha'i's of the greater Saint Louis area. She was great and left a wonderful feeling in the room. I think that it was one of the more impressive dinners they have had in the last few years.

Genevieve, "This could be the beginning...," ownlife: individualism and eccentricity

On Baha'i Youth Animators: Jedi Masters All

Found on flickr. This Creative Commons-licensed {Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic} image, uploaded on May 4, 2007 by the very creative andropolis.

On Hari Raya in Singapore: Sitting at the table the Shi'a, Sunni, Taoist, and Baha'i

Id-ul-Fitr (Hari Raha Pausa) -- First day of the tenth lunar month of Shawwal commemorating the end of the fasting season

I was sitting at a table that had a Shi'a Muslim (have never met one personally to be honest, the Singaporean community is largely Sunni), a Baha'i and a Taoist priest. Not your typical Hari Raya gathering
ichaya, "Sick. Sigh." Tutu Much: The Chestnut Tree Cafe: A Peculiar Kind of Magic

I look forward to the day when the whole world will be sitting at the same table. Or picnic-ing at the same park. -gw

Picnic of the world

All the nations sitting on a blanket
Having a picnic, the Picnic of the World.

John Forster
This song is available on Tom Chapin's Mother Earth.

On First Posts: Always an auspicious event

A first post by a Baha'i blogger is always an auspicious event. -gw

Monday, October 22, 2007: Greetings to all! This is our first post.

{Image uploaded on February 6, 2007 by shareski on flickr,

On McCartney's Ecce Cor Meum and Baha'i-Inspired Music: How Directly the Light

"Religion conjures up pictures of us and them -- my God's better than yours. And religion, the way I was taught it, had a lot of uncomfortable things in it, wrath and punishment and original sin, that I'm not very happy with. "

Paul McCartnery, quoted in the album notes to Ecce Cor Meum
I listened to this album on my way to work today. I liked it. The lyrics read like a pop song, and that's not necessarily bad. It occurs to me, nevertheless, that the light that can be found in this work is reflected light.
Music that is Baha'i-inspired has so many more musical traditions to draw on, so many more stories. The light shines more directly on the creative effort.
For me, the work of the musicians who are creating Baha'i-inspired music today is more profound that anything that McCartney has done, either separately or with the Beatles, and there is so much fine music in that library, although God is working through us all, Baha'i and not yet. -gw

Monday, October 29, 2007

On Work As Worship: Turned out she also needed a hula dancer

Work is worship, the Baha'i Writings tell us. Every Baha'i is called on to work. The story of Mirza Haydar-Ali who, to earn a living, sold amulets at one time in his life comes to mind. Finding work that both pays the bills and is meaningful can be a challenge. If you want to be inspired, read Jade's blog entry of her efforts. -gw

{Photo uploaded on October 15, 2007 by R. J. Malfalfa on flickr,

On an Observation from Haifa: All these Baha'is, and nobody talks about them

Some observers are surprised Baha'is are not more of a focus of discussion. -gw

We have all these Baha'is, and nobody talks about them

{Photo uploaded on July 26, 2007 by Dany_Sternfeld on flickr,
licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic}

Friday, October 26, 2007

On Szue May's slice of Baha'i life

I drive a Blogger, an old model called Harbor Lights. A lot of people drive Blogger. Szue May does. Other people drive a Wordpress, a LiveJournal, a MySpace, etc. There is such variety out there, both make and model.

I'm partial to a Blogger blog, however. The main reason is that I can search for "Baha'i" on it. I did that on Szue May's Me & The Life That I Drag Along, and came up with a nice collection of blog entries on youth gatherings, feasts, and holy days this Baha'i blogger has shared with her readers over the course of 2 and 1/2 years. Check out her pics at the very bottom of her entries for a slice of life, a Baha'i's life, at that. -gw

On Self-Identity: What Do Your Walls Say About You?

What do your walls say about you? -gw

So who am I? My walls would suggest that I'm a Baha'i, a lover of fantasy and magic, of adventure and handsome pirates, and of the world and travel.

On løser: «Wir haben wahrlich die Musik zu einer Leiter für eure Seelen gemacht, zu einem Mittel für ihrenAufschwung in das Reich der Höhe»

For free Baha'i-inspired music click on the link below. -gw
«Wir haben wahrlich die Musik zu einer Leiterfür eure Seelen gemacht, zu einem Mittel für ihren Aufschwung in das Reich der Höhe.»
Offenbarung an Bahá’u’lláh im Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Absatz 51

Remarkable Ambient / Lounge / Experimental music from løser - which is the moniker of Thomas L. Raukamp, who is also the editor of Beat Magazine. -gw

"Ordinary things in life is where heaven likes to be", someone said. It´s those ordinary things in life that løser likes to explore with his "Ologie Project", a complete and genuine album the German artist composed, produced and presents all by himself. "I like to make everyday life stand still for a moment and reflect upon it", løser says, "so that it´s gems may come to shine, so often overlooked in the rush of the days."

løser´s music finds new listeners every day. Taking it to the stage as often as he has the chance and presenting it in an appealing way on his own website, løser has gained the recognition of well-known names, like the German "pope of electronic music" Christopher von Deylen (Schiller) and Britain´s synth-icon Howard Jones. Alex Young of "Milieu" writes about him: "Clearly influenced by earlier ambient artists such as Jarre or Eno, harmony is key to The Ologie Project, yet løser maintains a level of uniqueness of his own eccentric style."

All the music on "The Ologie Project" is realeased under the Creative-Commons-Licence. Enjoy.

On the Imminent Court Decision Affecting the Rights of Baha'is in Egypt: A World Watches, Waits, and Prays

I responded to a survey question recently that I had never felt discriminated against as a Baha'i. While that may be true for me given where I live, it is not true for many Baha'is in the world. In a few days an important court decision will be made in Egypt regarding the rights of Baha'is in that country. I received the following email with attachment from a concerned Baha'i. -gw

Dear bahai friends
Allah u abha
On behalf of Egyptian comunity of the bahai in Egypt
we need daily prayer for our cases in front the court next October 30- 2007 . so please read attached letter & my blog to see Promo of 2 documentary films about Egyptian Baha'i

The Court of Administrative Justice in Cairo decided to postpone to 30 October its decisions on two lawsuits addressing the rights of Baha’i Egyptians to basic identity documents and education.

The first lawsuit (no. 18354/58) involves the 14-year-old twins
Imad and Nancy Rauf Hindi who remain unable to obtain the new computer-generated birth certificates unless they convert to Islam or Christianity. The father of the two children had obtained birth certificates for them when they were first born in 1993 recognizing their Baha’i religious affiliation, but new certificates carrying the national number ( raqam qawmi) are mandatory and Baha’i children are unable to enroll in public schools without them.

In December 2006, the Supreme Administrative Court considered a similar lawsuit and found that the state had the right to deny Baha’i Egyptians identity documents recognizing their Baha’i religious affiliation. Accordingly, last January the lawyers of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) modified the requested remedies in the Hindi case so that the issue currently before the Court of Administrative Justice is whether Baha’i Egyptians have a right to obtain documents without any religious affiliation and without being forced to falsely identify as Muslim or Christian.

The second lawsuit (no. 12780/61) was filed by the EIPR last February on behalf of Hussein Hosni Abdel-Massih, born in 1989, who was suspended from the Suez Canal University’s Higher Institute of Social Work due to his inability to obtain an identity card recognizing his Baha’i faith. Baha’i students in post-secondary education often face suspension or expulsion because of their failure to obtain ID cards or military service postponement papers.

The Egyptian government has a legal obligation to protect citizens from religious discrimination and coercion under the Constitution as well as international and regional treaties it ratified, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The government is also obliged to protect the right to education without distinction on any basis, including religion or belief, under the African Charter, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child

See also Bilo's blog Baha'i Faith in Egypt:

Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights Prepares for Court
Two critical lawsuits concerning the Baha'is of Egypt will be ruled on by the Court of Administrative Justice in Cairo this coming Tuesday, 30 October 2007.

On Baha'i Views, Node on the Net: traffic report for Thursday, October 25, 2007

"Synaptic Gasp," uploaded on November 29, 2006 by ocean.flynn on flickr
Sitemeter provides a weekly "traffic report" for this blog. Here are the latest figures on the electrical impuses coming into this node on the net. Forgive the mixed metaphors. -gw
Average per Day ................ 129
Average Visit Length .......... 3:14
This Week ...................... 901
Page Views
Average per Day ................ 269
Average per Visit .............. 2.1
This Week .................... 1,884
I'm not much of a numbers person or a science guy. The following is intended to be an artistic representation of the state of confusion numbers put me in. -gw
--- Visits this Week --- DayHour 10/19 10/20 10/21 10/22 10/23 10/24 10/25 Total---- ----- ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------- 1 4 2 5 3 6 4 3 27 2 3 3 3 4 2 6 4 25 3 2 3 2 1 3 3 5 19 4 4 1 5 2 3 2 4 21 5 3 3 2 7 2 4 4 25 6 1 6 4 5 4 6 6 32 7 2 4 2 4 3 7 11 33 8 12 6 5 10 5 8 3 49 9 10 6 3 5 4 10 14 5210 5 1 3 5 3 4 5 2611 6 4 3 5 5 6 5 3412 14 3 2 7 5 9 6 4613 10 6 3 4 5 8 6 4214 9 5 4 5 10 12 6 5115 7 5 8 7 7 6 14 5416 11 5 3 8 3 8 7 4517 8 4 7 7 4 5 8 4318 7 1 4 8 3 3 5 3119 1 7 7 3 12 10 10 5020 10 4 9 5 11 4 10 5321 5 7 10 5 9 5 2 4322 5 3 6 4 7 5 4 3423 5 6 4 4 4 4 9 3624 4 3 6 0 5 6 6 30 ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------- 148 98 110 118 125 145 157 901 --- Page Views this Week --- DayHour 10/19 10/20 10/21 10/22 10/23 10/24 10/25 Total---- ----- ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------- 1 4 2 6 4 7 7 4 34 2 4 6 4 5 3 10 12 44 3 4 6 2 1 3 9 9 34 4 4 1 8 4 11 3 7 38 5 4 4 4 9 5 5 7 38 6 5 6 6 8 7 8 6 46 7 3 4 3 5 6 8 16 45 8 26 6 6 39 7 14 9 107 9 17 6 8 56 7 27 31 15210 17 1 7 11 3 25 8 7211 17 6 5 10 9 6 7 6012 19 4 3 11 16 10 13 7613 14 17 3 6 15 25 12 9214 12 7 4 6 26 27 10 9215 9 11 15 10 19 8 34 10616 19 5 4 20 8 12 27 9517 8 18 13 9 7 11 18 8418 33 1 5 15 3 4 31 9219 3 15 10 4 23 20 18 9320 26 4 39 21 34 42 16 18221 26 9 16 6 15 43 3 11822 10 6 9 8 15 12 9 6923 6 8 6 4 12 9 27 7224 9 4 8 0 5 6 11 43 ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------- 299 157 194 272 266 351 345 1,884

Thursday, October 25, 2007

On Baha'i Teachers: The First to Teach Outside the Square

There are teachers and then there are teachers. -gw

Mr Firestone was my science teacher at secondary school at Nelson College for Girls. He was of the Baha’i Faith and was my first and only teacher to teach outside the square.

Allanahk, "Inspirational Teacher," Life is not a race to be first finished: This is an attempt to record some of my musings about learning and teaching

Uploaded on March 23, 2007 by spcbrass on flickr

On Mentions of the Baha'i Faith: Emptying my Favorites into the Internet Ether, Batch 1

I bookmark like crazy. Fascinating blog posts that mention the Baha'i Faith and are worthy of wide readership have been piling up on my Favorites list over many months. It's time for action. There are some very moving stories, humor, great pics, personal reflection, and insightful analysis here. Some are raw gemstones; some are already highly polished. Each and every one constitutes evidence of the progress of the Cause in some way. Starting with the more recent and going back, here is Batch One, with many many more to go. What's accumulating on your Favorites? -gw

"Gemstone Anklet ,"
Uploaded on January 19, 2006
by meganpru on flickr


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

On Baha'i Life: A Holy Day with David Lynch and Donovan

The life of a Baha'i is rich with experiences, even more so on this Holy Day for cristiona9. -gw

Today was an exciting day! ... In the late afternoon, I met up with Sahba and Joan, two Baha’is in the community and we went to a celebration of The Birth of the Báb, a Baha’i Holy Day. The Báb started the Babi Faith and was the forerunner of Baha’u’llah, the Prophit of the Baha’i Faith. It was a wonderful gathering. It was held in the home of a lovely family in the south area of Dublin City. Their neighborhood is just gorgeous – somewhat quiet and away from the hustle and bustle of the centre of the city where I am. We started with refreshments and socializing (everyone loved my new hair color, so that’s nice to know). Then we had a nice program sharing the story of the early life of The Báb. Later on everyone went to dinner for some yummy Persian food, but alas, I actually had to rush back to campus.

Tonight David Lynch and Donovan both came to Trinity. They are both involved in a meditation project together. David Lynch started the program with a Q&A and then Donovan performed. It was really awesome and I had a great time!

cristiona9, "A Holy Day with David Lynch and Donovan," The Emerald Isle and Beyond: My experiences at Trinity College and traveling around Europe

{Re-posted with permission}
At first glance, they seem an unlikely pair: David Lynch, the movie director (Twin Peaks, Mullholland Drive, Inland Empire) and Donovan, the singer/songwriter (Hurdy Gurdy Man, Mellow Yellow, Sunshine Superman) appearing together, raising money to fund research on the health benefits of Transcendental Meditation.

On Religious Tolerance: Propaganda and Reality

Marco in Lisbon responds with a powerful picture to a Reuters news item. -gw

Perhaps some of you have read this new piece of propaganda by the Iranian Regime:

Iran holds its Black Church as symbol of tolerance

Of course this remind me of the destruction of the House of Mirza Buzurg (,
the destruction of the grave site of Quddus,
the destruction of the cemetery of Najafabad
just to mention the most recent ones.

I decided to show my readers the gap between propaganda and reality.
see this picture)

Marco Oliveira at

On Unity: Thanks to the Internet I found the Baha'i Faith

"The Internet's Second Wave," uploaded on February 8, 2006 by rich115 on flickr

More and more people credit the Internet with introducing them to the Baha'i Faith. -gw

I became a Baha'i about 4 years ago, converting from Presbyterian. Growing up I had a wonderful experience with my faith, but as I got older I started to explore a more universal religion. Thanks to the internet I found the Baha'i faith, which has deepened my knowledge of Christianity, Judiasm, Islam, Zorastrism, to name a few. It is a fairly new religion but very widespread over the world.

From "But First, Unity"

Is unity a distant ideal to be achieved only after the other great problems of our time have been resolved?

Bahá’u’lláh says the opposite is the case. The disease of our time is disunity. Only after humanity has overcome it will our social, economic, political, and other problems find solution.

Today, several million people around the world are discovering what He means. We invite you to explore His message with us.

On Baha'i Religious Culture: Some Answered Questions

Survey time. Several of the Baha'is in our community were invited by a local college student to answer questions as part of her research for a paper she was writing. Here were her questions and my answers. -gw

Some Baha'is of Tacoma

Subject: Questions on Baha'i Faith In Tacoma

Hello, I am doing a research paper on the Baha'i Faith for school. Please answer the following questions and provide any other information or opinions on your religion. I would like to attend a Baha'i meeting in my area. If you know of any meetings in Tacoma (preferably downtown or north tacoma) please share the information with me. Thank you.Rebecca.

a. What makes this culture different from the dominant mainstream religions in the United States?

From the Baha'i point of view, nothing is really outside the box, religiously, as all religions are, in essence, one. Baha'is don't divide the world into a "we" and a "they." There is only an "us." And that is very liberating.

b. What are the basic values of this religious culture?

Oneness. Spiritual evolution. Nothing stays the same. We either grow towards the light or we wither and die.

c. Have you ever heard anyone make a negative comment about people from your culture?

Yes, of course. But many of these comments come from a mistaken understanding of what God wants. The persecutors of Baha'is, as in Iran among the Shia "faithful," really believe in their hearts that they are doing God's work. The persecution is tragic but is not new. The same thing happened to Christians in the early days of the Christian era.

d. Have you ever felt you were discriminated against because of your religion?


e. What are the celebrations, ceremonies, rituals, and/or holidays that are celebrated by this culture?

There is little that can be referred to as ceremony or ritual in the Faith. Rather there is diverse expression of the core activities of the Faith that reflects the diversity of the human family and the local and regional cultures the Baha'is come from. There are nine holy days.

f. Are there any customs (clothing, food, worship, etc.) that you practice that may make life in the mainstream culture more stressful?

No. Being a Baha'i and following the laws and ordinances revealed by Baha'u'llah makes life easier and less stressful, if anything.

g. What is the one value or practice from this culture that you found inviting?

The prevalence of interracial and international marriages and the fact that children from such unions were not at a disadvantage, given the way Baha'i culture values diversity.

h. Is there anything about this culture that concerns or frightens you?


On the Need for Religion: Tenets in Common

This essay by JCM is a highly articulate argument for the oneness of religion by a Christian and a religion student who describes himself as "an individual and wonderful creation of The One." For his critique of Christianity as currently practiced, you may want to click over to his site to read this in its entirety. -gw

The Need for Religion: A few disclaimers are necessary before the beginning of this post:

(1) I am a religion major, and a religious individual. I call myself a Christian--mostly because that is the religious tradition in which I have been raised--but draw from many different religions and philosophies.

(2) As a religion major, I am facinated by the presence of religion in society and at awe at the myriad religions of the world, always respectful of each in their own unique circumstance.

(3) I refuse, even though I call myself a Christian, to accept that there is only one "true" religion. I FIRMLY believe it is the believing that is important. The religions of the world hold many of the same tenets in common (namely: truth, justice, peace, love, you know the "biggies"), and no one is better or more "correct" than any other; it is a true question whether "God" created man or many created "God." In either case, the worldly, temporal interpretation of God is incredibly limited and mortal (read: given to fallibility).

(4) This post is not meant to be a rant, or to push a cause. It sprang from several lengthy discussion I had with a friend of mine, which I am terribly greatful for if for no other reason than they made me think twice about why I believe.That said, here is my essay (which may be shaped or modified in the future, check back!) on the need for religion and why I am a "Christian."

First it should be said that the title we give ourselves, be it religious or otherwise, is closely related to the circumstances in which we are raised. I, raised in a religious, Christian family, call myself a Christian. Yet, my interpretation of Christianity is very much different from many people I know and certainly from the "norm." Am I any less Christian? I do not think so. I think that whatever the believer calls himself (in my case) is what he is. I call myself Christian because that is how I was raised, that is what is comfortable; and yet I draw upon several other religions and philosophies: meditation techniques from Buddhism, many prayers from Islam and Judaism (they are far more poetical, much more beautiful to listen to and say than most Christian prayers), acceptance from Baha'i (actual, the more I read on this, the more I like it). Yet, I was raised Christian, and believe that Jesus and I are tight, which is important to Christianity; and yet at the same time whatever you believe is good too. Again, it's the belief not tenet you believe. ...

Why any religion. That is a very good question and has led to vey lengthy discussion of religion vs science; Christianity vs. Humanism; etc. My answer is, again, several fold:

(1) Religion is the opiate of the masses. It makes people happy, it answers the unanswerable, and people like that.

(2) Science is very important. I firmly believe in evolution. Religion should never be at odds with science. They can be reconciled. Yet science can answer the what, the when, the where, the how, but not really the WHY. Why are we here? Why do we exist? The whole "what is the meaning of life?" question.

(3) There are two distinctive ways of looking at the world that push people's buttons. Religion and Science. They are both ways of interpreting the world and yet they are two distinct views. I do not think they need to be at odds with one another, though many people do. They are both relevant to today's society and should both be respected.

classi_college_dude, "The Need for Religion ,"An Empty Vessel
"Behold, Lord, an empty vessel that needs to be filled. My Lord, fill it." -Martin Luther The musings of a progressive-thinking Lutheran college student as he explores what his faith is really about.

{Re-posted with permission}

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

On Virtual Insanity: I think its time I found a new religion

How many songs reference "a new religion" in this, the Baha'i Era? More than just this one, that's for sure. -gw

Music video here
And I'm thinking in what a mess we're in
Hard to know when to begin
If I could slip the sickly ties that earthly man has made
And now every mother can choose the color of her child
That's not nature's way
Well that's what they said yesterday
There's nothing left to do but pray
I think it's time I found a new religion

On a Community Under Siege: The Ordeal of the Baha'is of Shiraz

Marco of Povo de Baha informs us of the online availability of this remarkable 84-page report. -gw

Community Under Siege:

The Ordeal of the Baha'is of Shiraz

On People Who Are Awakened by the Breath of God: He hath sent His angels with the sound of the great trumpet

"trumpet vine flowers against the sky,"
uploaded on June 7, 2006
by Martin LaBar on flickr

O people of loyalty, O people of faithfulness, O people who are awakened by the Breath of God, O people who are inhaling the scent of life from the Spirit of God! The path hath become smooth, the way straightened, the carpet of the Kingdom is spread, the Tabernacle hath been elevated upon the Hill of Might, the powers of heaven have been shaken, the corners of the earth have quaked, the sun has been darkened, the moon ceased to give light, the stars have fallen, the nations of the earth have lamented, and the Son of Man hath come upon the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, and He hath sent His angels with the sound of the great trumpet, and no one knows the meaning of these emblems save the wise and informed.

(Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 360)

Received in an email today. -gw

On Singing Her Heart Out: For Love

Lovely. Check out the photos. -gw

where there is love, nothing is too much trouble and there's always time
a very musical day...
Yesterday was another musical fireside in the Baha'i centre ... I was performing with all my friends! Had fun as usual...hehe... sang my heart out and it was just a great day =)

On Kudos to the Baha'is: Bahaists are the nicest people and I wouldn't mind living in a neighborhood full of them

Kudos from this blogger. -gw

The Baha’i House of Prayer in Evanston ... is the only facility if its kind in North America and it is a beautiful structure. Baha’ists are some of the nicest people you’ll ever want to meet and I wouldn’t mind living in a neighborhood full of them.

Mark, What I Learned About Religion With Monte Cox’s “Living World Religions Class,” Mark Elrod's Lame-o-Weblog

On Flexibility of Methods: Avoid restricting unnecessarily the efforts of the believers to teach the Baha'i Faith

Baha'is teach their Faith in a variety of ways. Thanks to Vahid Hedayati ( for sharing this text via his marvelous teaching website. -gw

Of paramount consideration ... is whether a particular method of teaching allows for a dignified presentation of the Faith. Cultures differ, and what may be considered dignified in one locality may not be so in another. It should be noted in this respect that, in the context of the Five Year Plan, the friends carry out a wide variety of activities at the level of the neighborhood and village, such as children’s classes and study circles, and in many cases it would be quite appropriate to visit the homes of people to explain the nature of these activities and invite them to take part. In still others, paying a visit to the home of someone to see whether they are interested in learning about the Faith would not be regarded as undignified in the least.

In general, the institutions of the Faith should be flexible in such matters and avoid restricting unnecessarily the efforts of the believers to teach the Faith.

18 October 2007

Photo: Home-visiting is practiced by many communities besides the Baha'is all over the world. Here is an example from Brazil:

"Our Local Community,"
Children At Risk Foundation – CARF ( on flickr

On Blogs Associated with Programs of Education: Mentions of the Baha'i Faith Popping Up like Toast

Uploaded on February 10, 2007 by theunabonger on flickr

Blogs are used in education all the time. A student signs up for a course and is asked to do a blog for reflection on the learnings of that program of study. My daughter-in-law Megan is a case in ponit. She has begun her graduate program in education and now has her own website. The Faith frequently comes up on these blogs. -gw
Education has an enormous potential as a catalyst of change. The quote regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value, education can, alone, cause it reveal its splendors and allow mankind to benefit there from” (Baha’u’llah, trans. 1952/1976, p. 260) captured this sentiment. Effective education has the capacity create conditions of equity and freedom of thought. Currently, many disparities among the American population imply that the educational system has not reached its full potential. A deep understanding of learning, teaching, and schooling will aid candidates to become effective educators. In this paper, definitions of these three concepts will be constructed sequentially, using the insights derived from the writings of Arends (1997), Dewey (1938/1997), Plato (ed. 1997), Mooney and Cole (2000), Rogoff (2003), Rousseau (1762/1968), Senge (2006), and Zull (2002). With the assistance of these writers, the current understanding of these concepts is as follows, that learning is the natural physiological and social process of purposeful, active, cyclic, and continuous acquisition of knowledge and understanding that builds upon our previous experience, and is beneficial. Teaching is the discipline which requires awareness, flexibility, and firm direction to create conducive learning situations for growth of knowledge, understanding, and skills through communication or facilitation. Schooling is the system in which learning and teaching are institutionalized and a degree of social development occurs. In this paper, the learning system, the nature of learning, and the benefits of learning will be addressed first. Next, teaching will be discussed in terms of awareness, flexibility, and management. Finally, schooling will be explored as a system.
"Explorations in the Characteristics
of Learning, Teaching, and Schooling (TLS 3)"
Megan Lewis, MIT, The Evergreen State College
Megan Lewis: Agent of Change in Training

Here are two examples of other blogs where mention of the Faith pops up, one apparently for a religion course and the other for "Political Science 129". -gw
{Photo licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic}

Monday, October 22, 2007

On Time to Teach and Learn:

This is a blog to really get excited about. And to support. -gw
share your story. talk back. advance the Cause

This site, maintained here at the National Teaching Office, was designed to share as quickly as possible the teaching stories, lessons learned, and creative initiatives that friends share with us every day from clusters around the country.

Photo: "TIME TO TEACH AND LEARN," uploaded on September 29, 2006 by Arash Behshadpoor on flickr