Monday, March 31, 2008

On Finding a Second Home: A place to charge my Bahá’ítteries

Nine views, one sun "Taken at Pune, India; Parvati hill range. These all were in a 15 min event. Just after the last one, the camera batteries conked off." Uploaded on October 9, 2006 by Aditya Bhelke on flickr, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic

My favorite blog snippet (and pun) of the day. -gw

I visited the Baha’i community of Belguam using that Ottawa family’s good name and it eventually became a second home and a place to charge my Bahá’ítteries.

I love Samuel's stories and pictures from India. -gw

On Visitors in March: The "Baha'i Views" from 9 K

This Year's Visits by Month Blogging is fun and good exercise. -gw


Sunday, March 30, 2008

On One Universal Cause and One Common Faith: Required to unify the world

Reading Steve Marshall's "No Assembly Required" on his blog Cormorant Baker this evening after having participated in our Intensive Program of Growth here in Tacoma for the past nine days, constitutes a rather odd juxtaposition of experiences for me. I have viewed Steve Marshall as a long-time nay-sayer, whose intent has been to denigrate what the International Baha'i Community has been endeavoring to do. Here I am, reading Steve Marshall, having just had this really great Baha'i experience to promote the growth of the very same International Baha'i Community that he opposes.

Steve is best known for his primary website, Baha'is Online, which re-posts material that deals with Baha'i subjects from other sites, as does Baha'i Views. There are some big differences between my site and his, however. His mix includes marginal and apostate material which I don't include. His sidebar claims almost a million and a third visitors, whereas my blog has drawn only about 54,000 in the year since I've had a visit counter, so big difference there.

David and Goliath come to mind, but this David is feeling sorry for the giant. Reading "No Assembly Required" I am struck by the fact that Steve is regularly posting about the Baha'i community, but, if I read him right, he has no opportunities to actually experience Baha'i community life.

This is the man who has come to my site on several occasions to say, "I am a Baha'i in good standing," yet who, despite this "good" standing, has cut himself off from contact with a physical Baha'i community. According to his post, he stopped going to feasts, and has avoided social and devotional activities. How long has he been cut off? Eight years, he says.

No wonder his observations sound odd and outdated, in this post especially. Steve writes, "Arguably, mainstream Baha'is are becoming less adminocentric," using a word apparently in use only among his circle of online friends. From my lived experience Baha'i administrative bodies perform at a higher level now than ever before, and Baha'is are more focused on their decisions. The Baha'i community is certainly more organized. There is no question that the collaboration between the institutions of the Rulers and the Learned has never been more successful. The degree of organization evident in the teaching campaign just completed today was extraordinary and clearly reflected that close collaboration.

Baha'is speak lovingly about the Baha'i administration brought into being by Shoghi Effendi. It is a topic we cover as part of Anna's presentation, along with such basic subjects as the Covenant. For Steve and the others who together form an online oppositional coalition, Baha'i institutions and administration are bad, yet Baha'is love their institutions and administration and know that they are in place to facilitate the unification of the world.

"The Baha'i Faith is a world religion whose purpose is to unite all the races and people in one universal Cause and one common Faith." That is how Anna's presentation begins. Steve extols the virtues of so-called "unaffiliated Baha'is on the Internet" who "may pray, fast, carry on a trade or profession, do charitable work, look after their family, consort with the followers of all religions, and so on." An Internet community is no substitute for a physical community, and the fact that "unaffiliated Baha'is on the Internet" do the things he lists outside of the very community that represents "one universal Cause and one common Faith" means they are ... missing out. To unify the world, the Baha'i community itself must be united. There is no plausible Baha'i identity outside of membership in the Baha'i community and participation in Baha'i community life.

Steve writes accurately, "I'm guessing" and "I wouldn't really know." He comes to conclusions about so-called "mainstream" Baha'is and the communities they live in, yet he hasn't had the experience of Baha'i community life in eight years to reflect upon, so all he knows is what he reads and what he imagines.

Over the past eight years Steve has nurtured an expectation that the International Baha'i Community would sputter and splinter, or come apart at the seams. That hasn't happened. As Baha'i sister Bon used to say, "We're here, we're dear. Get used to it."

On Spreading the Word of God: You just light up when you are talking about your Faith

Teaching is taking over in Baha'i culture. -gw

You know, it's like that with you and all these people! You just "LIGHT UP!"
The other day, I was doing my best to Spread the Word of God! I was fortunate enough to talk to someone that had already been touched by the power of love, energy and devotion.
Thinking back on this encounter I had, it was a confirmation in my head, that what I was doing the right thing, that my life has so much more of a profound purpose. I realised even more how much i love the Baha'i Faith and all that it stands for, How happy it makes me and how much i want to spread this happiness to the rest of the world! I still have so many more people to meet, see, love, be touched by?
It made me really, want to do more and more! Teach the world more and more about the how beautiful life is? How with the God in your Heart it can make things happen!
Any way, so i was talking to this young lady about my Faith! She seemed interested so I just kept going with it. Then suddenly she stopped me and said " You, your Friend, you JUST LIGHT UP, when you are talking about your Faith...I don't know what it is...but it is something else.."
I had never realised that me or my friend or for that matter anyone of us in this world had such a potential to influence or touch anothers life. This is when i, myself, got moved at the thought of thinking, that through my words and actions i had the potential to help the world and in the process improve myself. I was touched that night into a state of Humility and Gratitude!Just something small i wanted to share with you all!
I have been so blessed to have met the people i have met in my lifetime and am excited at the prospect of tomorrow and the next day and the next and so on and so on, until my very last breath, I want to share the message of Baha with you all, with the world. It makes me happy and I feel it will also make you happy! I wish you a happy life!
{Re-posted with permission}

Three Declarations in 8 Days: Tacoma's Intensive Program of Growth

In eight days of door-to-door teaching on 45 blocks in the heart of Tacoma we have had three declarations and about 50 individuals identified for follow-up, out of which we expect about 20 to nurture in the months ahead. Today we complete our 11th Intensive Program of Growth.

Below are pictures taken on Friday in the Joseph home, our home base during the weekdays of the campaign. The teaching taking place during the IPG was not just on the streets, but in the Joseph home, too.

Here is Kit, on-fire with the Faith but not yet a declared Baha'i, doing Ruhi Book 1 with our Board Member Shawn and Baha'i youth Jason.

Here is Betty with child in her lap learning of the Faith from Chris who is doing Anna's Presentation with her, and Sandy who is silently praying.

Grandma Shannon is holding Betty's newborn while Betty takes in the presentation.

Fourteen year-old Baha'i youth Kierra is playing with Dylan, Betty's oldest.

Here I am with Aloma, Shannon's youngest.

Shadi is all smiles here, as is Kierra. -gw

Saturday, March 29, 2008

On Life in the Mountains of Panama: The radio blasting the local Baha'i "evangelical" music

Michael of Michael Frank photography fame brought to my attention a series of posts with mentions of the Baha'i Faith on a blog called true life planet, one woman’s journey traveling/volunteering around the world. The blogger travels to Panama to live with the Ngobe people. Michael writes: "I had to chuckle over the evangelical Baha'is comment! I don't think she has met any in person yet, kind of lumping folks together....." - gw

... Church here is really big-generally the first question many people asked me here is if I believed in God. Atheism is not a concept understood here-so even people who visit who don´t believe in anything in particular, tell people they are Christian. There are many different churches: The Manatata, which is the traditional church of the Ngobe, and has a woman phophet; The Catholic church; The Bahai church; the Jehovahs Witnesses; and countless Born Again sects. ...

... In a community where everyone lives 10 to 20 feet from one another, and much of life takes place outside(since the homes are so tiny), it is rare not to hear all the goings on of your neighbors-and, at all times of the day and the night. You hear everything from the radio blasting the local Bahai´evangelical music (the Bahai´own the only radio station here), to domestic violence to a pig getting butchered. ...

... He told me that they had three kinds of markers they used as headstones-one, a Christian cross(this being the most popular, as most people said they were Evangelical); a piece of wood cut into a star, for those people who were of the Bahai faith...; and for people who either believed in nothing or nothing was known about them, a tree was planted. ...

Friday, March 28, 2008

On Recognition of the Baha'i Faith: Next country to do so, Iran?

The Baha’i Vietnam Community held its first congress in Ho Chi Minh City on March 21 to mark the Government’s recognition of the religion’s legal status.

Vietnam recognized the Baha'i Faith a year ago, an anniversary just commemorated. A reader emailed me to note the following. -gw

"There are not that many places where the Baha'i Faith is not recognized anymore. Of the remaining places that would make real news, I think the first will be Iran. Don't laugh! I think at the very least there will be a de facto recognition, if not de jure. It has been moving in that direction the last couple of years, in spite of the GOIRI's hardest attempts to crush the Baha'i Faith. The messages of the Universal House of Justice to the Baha'i students in Iran and to the Baha'is of Iran make me think that it will be Iran..."

{Photo: "'Memory of Imam' highway," uploaded on January 5, 2008 by nima s+ on flickr, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic}

On Baha'is and Beads: Bead One, Pray Too

Baha'is and beads go together like peapods and peas. -gw

Bead One, Pray Too
Exploring contemplative prayer through making and using different forms of prayer beads. It continues themes found in the book “Bead One, Pray Too” by Kimberly Winston, author of the blog.

March 27, 2008 by kjwinston
I feel like starting with Baha’is and their prayer beads. Why? Don’t know. Not the oldest religion or the oldest prayer beads. Not the newest, either. Maybe I just feel like going alphabetically. No, I think I saw a picture of a set of Baha’i prayer beads as I was web-surfing the other day and I just felt like starting there. And I’ve had enough Christian prayer beads and rosaries after six weeks of Lent. And Baha’is are a good place to start because it is an extremely inclusive religion - they have never met a major prophet they didn’t like.

So, what is the Baha’i faith? It was founded about 150 years ago in the land that was once called
Persia and is now known as Iran. Like many religions, it was founded by someone who had an extreme mystical experience that forever changed his life. The founder of the Baha’i faith was a Persian nobleman named Bahá’u’lláh. Bahá’u’lláh claimed to be a messenger of God, a continuation of - not a repudiation of - the line of God’s prophets that began with Abraham (Judaism) and continued through Muhammad (Islam). His main message was that there is only one God and that all the other prophets and their followers were all of His children who should be united in their love for Him and for each other. I often think of the Baha’i faith as the ultimate feel-good religion (and I mean that as a very good thing).

Who are the Baha’is? Relatively speaking, their numbers are small.
Adherents. com lists 7.6 million worldwide, with perhaps 700,000 in the U.S. But their blanket is quite wide, with Baha’is today coming from more than 2,100 different ethnic and tribal groups, according to Baha’i International. The majority of Baha’is live in Iran, where many are persecuted for their faith.

Bahai’s have about the best description of prayer I have ever come across - they see themselves
“in conversation with God,” with whom they are “speaking a language of love.” One of the ways they pray was spelled out by Bahá’u'lláh in his Kitab-i-Aqdas:

It hath been ordained that every believer in God, the Lord of Judgement, shall, each day, having washed his hands and then his face, seat himself and, turning unto God, repeat “Alláh-u-Abhá” ninety-five times. Such was the decree of the Maker of the Heavens when, with majesty and power, he established Himself upon the thrones of His Names.

Some industrious Baha’i invented prayer beads that would aid in keeping track of the 95 repetitions of God’s name. One set
is a circle of 95 beads, with the first 19 either separated from or different from the rest. The second type is usually a strand, rather than a circlet, with three parts - a line of 5 beads, a transition bead, and a line of 19 beads. The strand is often finished with a tassel, called a “siyyid,” and the nine-point star that is the symbol of the Baha’i faith. The website 95 Prayers suggests the devotee sit with the 19 beads in his or her dominant hand and the 5 beads in the other hand. At each repetition of “Allah-u-Abha,” the fingers move down the strand of 19 until it hits the tassel. Then, the fingers of the non-dominant hand move down one bead on the line of 5, and the process is begun again. 5×19=95.

In a forthcoming entry, we’ll talk with a Baha’i about their use of prayer beads. Until then . . . happy beading and praying.

{Re-posted with permission}

Note: Kimberly's figures for numbers of Baha'is are a little off, but close enough for jazz, as the expression goes. The majority of Baha'is in the world are not in Iran, although the Baha'i Faith there is the largest minority religion. The number of Baha'is in the United States is much less than the figure she quoted, although I really like the sound of her figure. -gw

Thursday, March 27, 2008

On Soul Talk: An etiquette of communication worthy of the coming maturity of humankind" quality="high" scale="noscale" salign="lt" wmode="transparent" bgcolor="#ffffff" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" pluginspage="" width="100%" height="242" allowScriptAccess="always" flashvars="" /> Soul Talk

Get it?! -gw

Exploring Concepts of Spiritual Import

Though we can never impose our opinions upon others it is incumbent upon us to engage in conversations on topics of spiritual import in an atmosphere of love and humility if we are to progress as one united race.

your soul talk box
We should strive for " etiquette of communication worthy of the coming maturity of humankind..." -The Universal House of Justice
To get your very own Soul Talk widget, go to -gw

On the Baha'i Internet Braintrust: Uncovered!

After months of patiently pounding away at their keyboards and staring at their screens, the legions of Baha'i Views staffers operating in the dimly lit backrooms of Central Headquarters have finally gotten behind the curtain. With this post the results of their collective efforts can now be shared. The Baha'i Internet Braintrust has been uncovered.

And you know, all this time we thought they were operating in secret, and what have we discovered? The Baha'i Internet Braintrust has a blog, for gosh sakes, for all the world to read. -gw

What we’d ideally like to have from a web presence. In our wildest dreams. IF we could do it all -
• Give Baha’i Youth an identity
• A kickass introduction to the Baha’i Faith (videocollage)
• Spark a spiritual conversation / engage in a newdialogue about God
• Spark a spiritual revolution, a youth movement
• Bring the focus to the core activities.
• Make the core activities cool
• Give Baha’i Youth a community, an identity to beproud of
• Use Baha’i arts celebrities to inspire
• Focus on creativity and arts as relates to spirituality
• Become an epicenter of Baha’i arts and spirituality
• Facilitate action and service
• Make spirituality cool

{"The man behind the curtain," uploaded on November 6, 2007 by drurydrama on flickr, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic}

On Drawing on Anna's Presentation: Teaching via social networking

Nurjoohan is using Anna's Presentation on the Experience Project. -gw

The Baha'i Faith - Introduction (source: Ruhi Book 6)
03:36PM on Mar 13th, 2008
Baha'i Faith is a world religion. Its purpose is to unite all the races & people in one universal Cause and one common Faith....
read more]

I Am a Baha'i
This group is about the Baha'i Faith and stories are posted regarding the Baha'i Faith

On Temples of India: The Baha'i House of Worship at night

Indian Temples
From SlideHero, 1 year ago
Various types of Indian Temples, including a picture of the Baha'i Lotus Temple at night.

Found on Slideshare with links to flickr. -gw

On Reasons Why Khalil Greene Has a Seat on the Bench: Maybe growing turmoil in the Middle East and uncertainties where his allegiance lies

Most well-know Baha'i in baseball has Mark wondering. -gw

SS- Kahlil Greene

How does this make sense? Greene was drafted the last 3 seasons in our league, at least. In 2007 he just about doubled his career average in every offensive category. His reward? A seat on the bench. Maybe its because of the growing turmoil in the Middle East and uncertainties where his allegiance lies with that Muslim/Jewish/Baha'i hybrid name. Is he white? Is his dad from Pakistan? Were his parents just hippies? Who knows.

Mark, Pine Riders
Alex Doesn't Love Derek: The Blog!
Sports and fantasy rumblings. From our hearts to yours.

On Teaching with the Prisoners of Shiraz in Mind: After every doorstep visited there is a story to tell

Every day I am having exquisite teaching experiences as part of the Tacoma Intensive Program of Growth. After every doorstep visited there is a story to tell. I have not yet had the time to recount here the details, but I look forward to being able to reflect on them upon the conclusion of the teaching campaign Sunday night. Below is a brief overview written by one of the team members as distributed via email to the Baha'i friends in Cluster 19.

Inspiring us are the three prisoners of Shiraz. -gw

There have been many exciting and inspiring stories from our teaching efforts over the past few days. There were so many positive experiences. On Saturday there were 28 people (adults, youth and children) that made up 11 teams and on Sunday there were 22 adults,youth and children on 8 different teams. During the week days there have been 3-4 teams going out doing follow up visits and visiting new homes. These are just a few of the stories so far.

At one home when the team went to the door and said they were Bahá’ís, the person at the door excitedly said “I am a Bahá’í!! I never expected Bahá’ís to come to my door. God works in mysterious ways.” Two days later, Bahá’ís went back again.

At another home a woman came to the door and there was another young woman lying on the couch. When the team told the woman at the door that they were Bahá’is, the other woman flew off the couch and said, “I am a Bahá’í!!! Allah’u’abha”” . She had just moved to the area and hadn’t had time to contact the Bahá’ís yet. She had been very busy with school and work but now she isn’t working and will be able to be involved in the activities of the community.

At the home of a Bahá’í in the target neighborhood, some other Bahá’ís came to visit. The visitors included a man, a woman, her son and the son’s girlfriend. The girlfriend was not a Bahá’í but knew some things about the Faith. So, the Bahá’í who’s home was visited asked if he could give her a presentation on the Faith (Anna’s presentation from Ruhi book 6). She agreed. At the end of the presentation, she embraced Baha’u’llah!

At another home the team came across a Vietnamese couple. The couple didn’t speak much English so the team said they would come back with a translator. Two days later, one of the original team members along with another Bahá’í woman and the Vietnamese speaking Bahá’í went back to the house. They were there for about 45 minutes. The English speakers said the Vietnamese couple were very gracious and offered them tea. Everyone seemed happy but the English speakers didn’t understand one word of the exchange. However, phone numbers were exchanged between the Vietnamese Bahá’í and the seekers.

At another home a very radiant man heard part of Anna’s presentation and asked that someone come back any day after 7:00. He said the door would be open. He was very open and responsive to hearing about the Faith.

At another home the team gave part of Anna’s presentation by holding the book up to the window with the person peeking thru the blinds! The person told them to “come back and who is this Baha’u’llah?”

The home of another Bahá’í has many non-Bahá’i relatives living there. The Bahá’í asked the fiancé of his daughter if he would take the time to hear a presentation on the Faith that would take about an hour. This fiancé knew some things about the Faith from talking to the Bahá’í but hadn’t had a comprehensive presentation. The fiancé agreed to take time out from his Easter dinner cooking to listen. As the presenter was getting going, there was a knock on the door. It was the Mormon elders who were teaching this fiancé. As it turns out, the fiancé invited the elders to hear the message of Bahá’u’llah because he said “they need to hear this!”. Other members of the family gathered in the living room to hear the presentation and the quiet that descended on the room was amazing considering all the previous activity and people who were there. One Mormon friend was very agitated and impatient to go, but the other one, along with the fiancé, was enthralled with what they were hearing. The Bahá’í was singing prayers to his baby grandson so the praying for the success of the presentation was very natural. In the end, the fiancé was very excited about what he heard. The presenter is going to start a Ruhi book 1 with him and whoever else wants to come. The next day, some Bahá’is were at that house using it for the headquarters of the Expansion phase and the fiancé couldn’t stop talking about the Faith and the presentation of the previous day. He was still so afire with what he had heard.

One of the team members who is a veteran Bahá’í said that it was “really fun”! For the past 25 years she said she would never do door to door teaching again. When the core team invited people to do direct teaching she decided that she was just going to take photographs. But once she stepped into being part of the team and they started teaching, she said she was filled with joy.

Another team member who was 13 and had never done door to door teaching, reported with a smile when he came back “it was fun!”

Photos by Flitzy Phoebie

Also, please check out my wife's posts so far on the campaign. - gw:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

On Tuesday Teaching: Day 4 of the IPG on Hilltop, Tacoma

IPG clutter.

This is a map of the designated area of the Hilltop neighborhood in Tacoma where, through a process of consultation, the decision was made to concentrate our efforts for our Intensive Program of Growth. Each numbered section marked off constitutes an assignment for a teaching team to cover.
Each section has a folder carried by a member of the team to keep the records of the attempts to present the Message to the occupants of each house.
Chris and Debbie are consulting on team assignments and sizing up the materials.
As a resident of the Hilltop, Toby provided his home as the home base for the teams to operate from. There are 21 people living in Toby's home, and, no, 21 is not a typo.
Teaching during the week means fewer teams going out, four today, as it depended on believers being able to get time off from work and other commitments, but the fire burned just as brightly as on the weekend when 18 teams went out over the two days.
Marion who has done direct teaching in decades past came out to support the effort, here studying up on Anna's Presentation in preparation.
Like the game Martha was holding, we are "together."

It was serious warm-coat weather, cold and rainy at times.
Our Auxiliary Board Member for Propagation Mauricio is one of the best teachers, whether in English or Spanish, and one of the most humble.
Out the door Debbie went for a follow-up visit to the new believer who declared Saturday night. And after that, she had an evening Ruhi 1 study circle to go to that she is tutoring. What a servant of Baha'u'lah! This is what members of the Baha'i religion do to raise up the Kingdom of God on earth. -gw

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

On Massive Realization: I really feel I have found my direction for once

The Internet is amazing. So is Jessica. -gw

Hello, My name is Jessica, and I'm really interested in learning about the Baha'i Faith. I know quite a few Baha'is through my boyfriend and his family, but I'm so very hesitent to ask them where is the best place to start off, the best book for introductions, and all of that because I feel so extremely stupid when it comes to religion. I know they'd be willing to help, but I just don't want to make a fool of myself, so better to ask someone who is knowledgable but whom I don't really know. So, if you don't mind, could you recommend a few good books to start off with? I've never been religious at all, mainly due to a lot of my ideas clashing, but how my boyfriend explained some things to me it sounds like this has really put all of my thoughts and ideas on God and existance into line. I'd just really like to test the water, and see what the faith is all about- especially the whole idea of how we came to be. So, thanks in advance, if you don't mind giving me some advice as to where to start looking.

- Jessica

How wonderful to hear from you, Jessica! There is no one place to start. There is no one book. No need to "feel stupid."

One good place to begin are the official Baha'i websites, such as and

Next you could contact your local Baha'is and ask them about participating in a Ruhi study circle. It's small group study using a series of books that will give you the best possible foundation for understanding God's teachings for this day. All of the core activities of the Baha'i Faith are open to all, so you should feel comfortable being with others who, like you, are seeking and wanting to know more about this spiritual path.

With your permission I would like to re-post your lovely email on my blog.

Please get back to me and tell me how all this goes for you.

- George Wesley Dannells

Thank you so much, Mr. Dannells! As soon as I went to the website you gave me I found a lot of the answers I was looking for right away! The more I learn about this faith the more everything really makes sense to me, and I really believe this is the most wonderful thing that could have happend to me. Now that I feel more confident that this faith backs up virtually everything I've ever thought and believed in, I really want to dive into it. And even after discovering the Baha'i faith and their view that all religions of the world are ultimately connected through one God I am so excited to learn all about all of the world religions! I really feel like I've found my direction for once, because for so many years I've been so confused because I felt that all of the things I believed in contradicted one another. I will definately contact the Baha'is in my community when I feel comfortable with all of this, right now I'm just taking this all in because I feel like I've had this massive realization, as cliche as that sounds. And sure, go right ahead and use anything you want for your blog- that is how I found you, afterall. Thank you so much!

- Jessica

On Children: Cause them to be nurtured

Found on eBay. -gw

Here it is folks . . . This is a very special limited edition original poster . . . offered here on Ebay by it's creator - NYC artist/photographer David Robert Bliwas.

David's portraits and fine-art New York and Paris street scenes have been shown in galleries from New York, Paris, Pittsburgh and Cleveland, and his works are included in private collections worldwide.

The poster titled "One Human Family" includes an image of six lovely children . . . first grade classmates - Jewish, Buddhist, Christian and Muslim . . . American, Japanese, Spanish, Turkish and Kuwaiti. The image of these wonderful children was made first in b&w . . . and then David hand-colored only selected parts of the portrait. These children are so pure, innocent and genuinely happy . . . and you can easily see the hope of the future in their smiles and faces . . . when one day all people will be able to live as "One Human Family". Underneath the image is a complimentary and inspirational Baha'i prayer for children... a prayer asking for their protection and that these children be educated and enabled to grow and serve all humanity. What's better than that?

BAHA'I PRAYER for CHILDREN Art Poster SIGNED Numbered - Item number: 200210557639

On Legitimate Religion and God's Truth: Even Baha'i

Dennis complains when an ad for a certain new religious movement appeared on his LiveJournal blog. -gw

I wouldn't even be angry if it was an advertisement from a legitimate religion like Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Jainism, Sikhism, Confucianism, Shinto or even Baha'i.

Our world today is full of truth too. No, not all religions and ways of thinking lead to Heaven, but they have a real truth to them. Muslims, LDS, Baha’i, Islam, Christian Science…all of these religions have God’s truth enveloped in them in ways. Even those who claim to have nothing to do with God, atheists and agnostics, still have a sense of right and wrong – God’s truth.

Monday, March 24, 2008

On Eating, Praying, and Exercise: After the Baha'i Fast

Weight loss is not the purpose of the Baha'i Fast, but it can be a time of focusing on health, both spiritual and physical, in preparation for a new year. -gw

Posted on March 21, 2008 by LyricalFool

O Son of Spirit!
Noble have I created thee, yet thou hast abased thyself. Rise then unto that for which thou was created.
~ Baha’u'llah, The Hidden Words

The Fast officially ended at sunset this evening, and boy oh boy was it a learning process. Far more than last year, and I was far less successful with it this year compared with last year.

I am incredibly foolish at times. Embarrassingly, frighteningly, and utterly foolish. I had this strange month, March, one where absolutely nothing seemed to go right.

Once you get things “all figured out,” it’s supposed to be smooth sailing, right?

Spring Break was last week, and, without a doubt, it was the most disastrous week I’ve had in a long, long time. It was bad-bad, like half-a-gallon-of-blue-bell-ice-cream in 2 days bad. A feat, I might add, that I have NEVER accomplished in all of my days of crazy eating before last week.

Last week, the one that fell after this wonderful, transformative, oh-my-God moment that supposedly changed everything.

It wasn’t bad enough that I did that, though. I broke the Fast. Over and over and in as many different ways as I could possibly count, I broke the Fast. And the level of guilt that I felt over it was incredible, to the point of my wondering why I was doing it in the first place.

Two days went by, and I realized I was eating [bad] food. ... Four, and I realized that I hadn’t done my morning routine of meditation and exercise in at least three days. Guilt is such a strange, strange thing.

I have been reading a lot, though, and I realized that I have unceremoniously and unconsciously looking for something to “disprove” the Baha’i Faith. Because one “wrong” word, one wrong fundamental difference, and I could say “Aha!” and walk away from the Baha’i Faith. It was 16 months ago that I had first heard of it, from a person who had asked me what I believed about God.

I stuttered and stammered because, while I had all of these “universal” spiritual ideas, I hadn’t really fleshed them out. And as I talked, and then he explained, I instantly recognized huge points of commonality, and I found myself thinking, “Hmm. You mean other people feel this way, too?”

It was eye-opening for me, and it set me on a path of reading and researching. But here it is the second year of the Fast, one in which, by all outward appearances, I abysmally failed, and I know what I’m doing. (At least for this moment, that is, as always, subject to change at any moment), and I know where I’m headed.

The way I see it, committing to a faith is very much like committing to a marriage. While I’ve explored in the past, I think that to declare your specific path is to show what you’re striving for by means of a commitment.

When I worked Step 3 in January, and willingly and consciously gave my life and my will over to God, I meant it, and I realized that it wasn’t just about food, but I really didn’t understand the scope of what I was doing.

Of course, I’m not sure that I do even at this point, but I’m okay with that. ...

I do not have Baha’i leanings. I am not “intellectually curious” about Baha’i studies.
I am Baha’i.

And tomorrow is the New Year. And I have my work cut out for me....

{Re-posted with permission}

On Life After Being Introduced to Direct Teaching: Welcoming in the Jehovah's Witnesses

Bonita gazing at the beauty of God's Creation on Mt Rainier last summer when we went hiking with Leila (of Love from Leila blog fame) and her husband ShaUn. -gw

This is the news from home from my wife emailed me at work today after her experience of door-to-door direct teaching this weekend. -gw

Oh! I invited two Jehovah Witnesses in today, telling them to "come in and warm yourselves a spell". We sat in the den, had a good conversation, very 'mutual', as I not only validated so many of their concepts but was able to convey the basic themes of Anna'sPresentation: the Great Covenant, the Manifestations, God, Baha'u'llah's mission, His station, His exile and imprisonment; Baha'i community life... and also shared my experience of direct teaching -receptivity, areas that are 'more open'. I let them know we all walk the same path of service, to bring humanity together in unity. They were stunned when I told them who Baha'u'llah was, and in time, they closed their books and left. I thought about the word 'bold' over Jaqueline Left-Hand Bull's head in my photograph - gentle tone, but bold direct statements. It left them a little unsettled, but resolute on their path throughout the neighborhood.

On Adalia Is Going Home: Will miss the good people of Korea

One of the cool, cool Baha'i bloggers is moving her laptop to back to South Carolina. -gw

My Dear Friends and Family,

Well, those of you who are still in Korea and have been able to spend time with me know that I am leaving today. Many of you I haven't seen for a long time, so you don't know and for that I am very sorry. I was here for 6 years and during that time each one of you had some impact on my life, big and small. I am soooo grateful and happy that my life path brought me here...that I got to meet so many beautiful, wonderful, good people.

I am going home to South Carolina where I will start a Masters program in June at Coastal Carolina University. It is a 14 month program, at the end of which I will have a Masters in Teaching and will be a certifide secondary education social studies teacher. I have no idea where this is going to take me. I am very excited though because I had no idea at the beginning of my journey to Korea what would be in store for me and I can only say that it has been a life changing experience.

I want to wish each of you well. I hope that you are happy and that you are working towards fulfilling your dreams, whatever they may be. Please feel free to write me and to stay in touch. I would love to hear from you!

Take care and until our paths cross again....
Peace and Love, Adalia

{Photo: "The Honors Convocation at Coastal Carolina University," uploaded on April 26, 2006 by evilgenius on flickr, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic}

On Why There Haven't Been Mass Conversions to the Baha'i Faith: Leighann Lord lays it on the bizarre idea of equality

In her copyrighted column, "the Urban Erma" Leighann Lord gives a nod to the Baha'i religion. Oh my, Lord! -gw

Although not a formal member, I subscribe more to the Baha'i religious philosophy which teaches equality of the sexes.

“The world of humanity has two wings—one is women and the other men. Not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly. Should one wing remain weak, flight is impossible. Not until the world of women becomes equal to the world of men in the acquisition of virtues and perfections, can success and prosperity be attained as they ought to be."

Or as Rob Base so eloquently put it, “It takes two to make a thing go right.” This bizarre idea of equality vs subjugation is probably why there haven't been mass conversions to the Baha'i faith. Nice gardens though.

On Direct Teaching in the Hilltop Neighborhood: Be Bold

Be bold. Be bold.

Jacqueline Left-Hand Bull, Chair of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States, was present to go out door-to-door teaching with us on Saturday as we launched our 11th Intensive Phase with 11 teams scattering to different assigned blocks in the Hilltop. Seven more teams went out Sunday.

We've had "entry by troop" in Tacoma before, back in the 90's when
El Rico, Tosca, Robert, and Linda, included in this picture, entered the Faith along with others from a tight-knit group of friends and family.

Our IPG began
with a Reflection Meeting that included several small-group break-out sessions, this being one of them on prayer.
We moved to the Lewis home for further training in the use of Anna's Presentation and the formation of teams. Then out the door. To be continued.... -gw