Friday, February 29, 2008

On Miraculously Managing: Observing a Baha'i holiday I'd have to look up to be able to spell

My Ayyam-i-Ha blog mention snippet favorite of the day. -gw

Today we also (miraculously, it seems) managed to observe a Baha'i holiday I'd have to look up to spell with my partner's family, and it was sweet, and weird that we crammed it in between everything else, and there were presents, and food, and cake, and adults constructing toys after children give up on them and go to sleep, and family conversation and it was kind of rejuvenating.

On Writing in the Margins: Two Copies of Dawnbreakers

I have two copies of The Dawnbreakers - one is a fresh copy and one is my Clara Dunn Academy copy, which means it's full of highlighting, underlining, and notes. SO are Gleanings and Some Answered Questions. For several months after Clara Dunn (a nine-day study camp) I found it difficult to read any Baha'i book that wasn't color-coded, and my brain didn't work right if I couldn't write in the margins.

Ah, Baha'i youth. -gw

On the Growing Momentum: News from Knoxville, Victories from Vegas

More news from the teaching blog. -gw

Hello Folks,

Joyous news from Knoxville, 6 enrollments in the last few months, nearly all, if not all with Anna’s presentation. Anna’s presentation has been used at firesides also, I understand. The community is energized and coming together. More encouragement towards unity in joy.

Love to all of you, Jack

Joyous news from Knoxville

Las Vegas Baha'i Center
He said that he would like to come to the Bahá’í Center and learn about the Faith. After a few days, having not heard from him, I called him back. He said that he does not have a car and it is difficult to get here. I asked if he would like someone to go to his home and present the Faith to him there. To this he said yes. Another Bahá’í and I went today and presented Anna’s presentation. Halfway through, he was asked if he believes that Bahá’u’lláh is the Manifestation of God for this day. The man said he believes that He is. We went on with the presentation, and at its completion he readily declared his faith and signed his card.

On Being Sure You Have the Genuine Article: You may be a victim of religious counterfeiting

"Genuine fake watches for sale in Turkey. Echte nep horloges te koop in Turkije." Uploaded on September 22, 2006 by Jackie Kever on flickr, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic. Comments: Marlis1 says: "I love this sign - somebody had a sense of humor."

The top result if doing a search for "Baha'i" on Google is...

The Baha'i World: The official presence of the Baha'i Faith on the Web. Comprehensive body of authentic material presented by the Baha'i International Community.

The site is "the official presence." But there are thousands of other sites out there. Just because a website or blog describes itself as Baha'i doesn't mean it is a source for authentic material. Blogs, if done by individuals, as most blogs are, are unofficial. On the U.S. Bahai multimedia website, there is this friendly reminder...

Much of the content featured on this page was created by individual members of the Baha'i Faith and does not necessarily represent the views of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States. This list is by no means exhaustive. You will find other excellent audio and video resources through iTunes, YouTube and Google searches.

Indeed, search on! The Internet exists for our benefit, and we have the intellect. It is our right to fully utilize what God has given us for our edification and education. And it is also so darn fun to explore for Baha'i content on the 'net.

But be knowledgeable about the sites you go to. Websites don't necessarily come with guarantees of authenticity. Blogs can say one thing and be another. Don't be fooled by "cheap imitations."

Don't be a victim of religious counterfeiting. Wrap your heart and soul around the genuine article. -gw

Thursday, February 28, 2008

On a Culture of Change: The Baha'i Community has turned the corner

Q: What is 'culture'?
outmodels in the wild.
Each circle represents an individual with an outmodel (M) that represents its individual view of the world (color). The outmodel of each individual is heavily influenced by the outmodels of the individuals around them, and is influenced to a lesser degree by parts of the objective world with which the individual has direct contact (trees). As a group, the individuals create a common world view, or an organized system of learned behavior that is their total way of life (i.e., a culture). Commonly, individuals and groups resist changes or challenges to their world view.
A: An organized system of learned behavior that is a total way of life of a people.
Image and description uploaded on March 26, 2006 by zachstern on flickr, licensed under Creative Common Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic

Above is text and image defining culture as learned behavior, which I found on Flickr as I was looking for a visual for this post. Below are the final two paragraphs from Momen's paper "Culture of Change," which I discovered on the Hedayati's Reaching and Teaching Efforts, a version dated February 2007. I am struck by the fact that one year later evidence of a profound change in Baha'i culture now appears, to my eyes at least, undeniable. In the interim between last February and this, the corner has been turned. -gw

In 2002, The Universal House of Justice made it clear: "Where Bahá'í communities are unable to free themselves from an orientation to Bahá'í life that has long outlived whatever value it once possessed, the teaching work will lack both the systematic character it requires, and the spirit that must animate all effective service to the Cause."[i]

Of course it is early days yet -- it took more than a decade for the change in culture that Shoghi Effendi instituted to become established in the Baha'i community. But the tide is turning. Guided by the Counsellors and the National Spiritual Assemblies, the Baha'is are beginning to follow the instructions of the Universal House of Justice -- and increasingly it is those Baha'is who have previously played a passive "congregational" role in the community, who have not been leaders in the community, the women and the youth, who are responding and initiating the activities that the Universal House of Justice has asked for. Although they may not yet be able to visualize how the Bahá'í community will look in its new cultural manifestation and they may not yet discern any benefits from the new order, nevertheless they are pressing ahead with the process. The direction towards which the Universal House of Justice is pointing the Bahá'ís is clearly the next logical step in the development of the Bahá'í community and as Bahá'í communities respond to the call for a change of culture, it can be anticipated that the features of the new culture will gradually become clearer.

[i]. Letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual, dated 22 August 2002
[ii]. A first draft of this paper appeared on an e-mail list in February 2003. It has subsequently been published in Living Nation and translated and published in a few languages. I am grateful to numerous people who commented on this paper in that list and subsequently by private correspondence and thus helped to shape the current (February 2007) version of the paper.

Moojan Momen, "A Culture of Change"

On How Amazing: To see the depth of understanding about the unifying vision of the Baha'i Faith, its Administration, and pattern of life in Iceland

What a powerful and touching blog entry that will endear Iceland and its Baha'is to anyone. -gw

Fabienne got sick: as we were leaving, on the tube, on the aeroplane, and then exactly at the moment we walked through the door of the home we were staying on our first night. In, her usual way, Fabienne remained cheerful throughout, sitting on the plane with only her bright pink trakkies Granny bought her last week, a blanket and no t-shirt. As we landed in Iceland, she cheered so hard, that people laughed with pleasure. "Iceland, Iceland, Iceland, Iceland, Iceland, Iceland, Iceland, Iceland, Iceland, Iceland, Iceland, Iceland, Iceland, Iceland!", she cried. It was surely one of the greatest greetings this country has ever received. As we found our bed and were preparing for sleep, she started to sob, "Can we go home now Mummy? Can we go back to our house?" I explained that we would sleep tonight and Baha'u'llah would be near us; we were sleeping after all under a rug made from Icelandic Wool, the width of the bed with the emblem of the Greatest Name on it. It was very powerful just sitting under it. And she then said "And Abdu´l Baha!" and then "Why we can´t see Abdu´l Baha?" "Because, Abdu´l Baha is in the Abha Kingdom, and that world holds this world so wherever we are, Abdu´l Baha is too." She seemed happy with this and fell asleep.

Dear Barbara and Svana. Barbara washed all our clothes immediately. It was a full load. That evening, they told me so many stories about the history of the Faith in Iceland. Barbara´s writing a book about it, which involves some travel to gather facts from other pioneers now living in Canada. She is a retired Massage therapist and Svana is a retired physiotherapist. Together they ran a clinic. Barbara taught Svana the Faith, and so they taught the Faith together too. Between them, they contain so much knowledge and insight it felt an incredible privilege to start our trip in their company. They were both very ordinary on the one hand but possessed a vigour and passion you rarely see. Svana told me that she will be 76 this year: I am extremely healthy she said swigging from her bottle of Cod Liver Oil. This is incredible and necessary for health: it keeps the eyes strong and clear, the muscles and bones healthy and immune system; I never get colds or influenza she said. Their hospitality was incredible. In one day, I felt as if we had been with them for a week. On my first night, almost immediately (that is after she had done my washing and fed me) Barbara produced a large A3 red newspaper cuttings book, with all the articles and news published in the Icelandic press in the 1970's and 1980's. It was amazing to see the depth of understanding the population held about the unifying vision of the Baha'i Faith, its Administration and the pattern of life being adopted by the Baha'is in Iceland. There was almost an assumption by the Press that this would be the majority Faith of the country in the near future. It was considered so newsworthy that the national papers were vying for exclusive coverage rights. The arrival of the Hands of the Cause, the Board Members and Pioneers was nearly always considered important news, so its all there, history recorded.

Barbara was originally a pioneer, she also pioneered to the Faroes. Barbara said "Svana is a swan, descended from the Vikings". Barbara explained that Svana was a very special person and told me many stories about what she achieved for the Faith: how she negotiated so simply and in such a friendly way with the Government Minister to secure the Temple Land for Iceland; how she taught the people the faith because they liked her so much; the dreams she had about Abdu´l Baha before she became a Baha´i and all the dreams she had after too; I began to realise that she is one of those special people, the Icelanders will ask to intercede on their behalf from the next world. She told me about the Viking prophecies of Mount Carmel, The Bab and Bahá'u'lláh, considered so powerful that the text of the prophecy "dares not mention his name". She went on to remind me that none of the prophets of old, nor the Bab would directly mention His name either, it was always "He whom God will make Manifest".

{Re-posted with permission}

{Photo: Icelandic Greenhouse, uploaded on May 19, 2005 by panic on flickr, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic}

OnTahirih (The Pure One) or Quarratu'l-Ayn : Neither the dutiful daughter nor ideal wife or mother

This has got to be one of the most succinct statements with regard to the Baha'i teachings on the equality of men and women I've come across. Click over for the full article. -gw

EVERY RELIGION has its model of ideal women. In Hinduism we have Sita, the perfect wife who remains faithful to her husband at any cost. In Christianity we have Virgin Mary, the symbol of motherhood .In Islam Fatimih, the daughter of Mohammad models the role of mother wife and daughter together. ...

Quarat al-ayn who is the most prominent women model in baby Bahai history is neither the dutiful daughter nor an ideal wife or mother since her estrangement from her husband has led to her forced separation from her children. Being a poetess with excellent education in traditional Islamic sciences she continuously opposed the theological position of her father Mullah Sallih. Not only was she fiercely anticlerical, she even refused to perform her daily prayers. But her most controversial and audacious act was to appear unveiled in a gathering of believers ...

No other religion has been as explicit as the Bahais in its support of the principle of equality of men and women .
Jayati Chakraborty
"Anatomy is not destiny – a Bahai perspective"

On the Baha'i Religion: Most Organized?

"one of the activities we organized in the summer project 2005, portimao ," uploaded on August 3, 2006 by sahbapasta on flickr, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

This morning someone came to Baha'i Views via a search for "bahai most organized religion." "Most organized" -- how wonderful to be so identified! I hope it's true. Being most organized is what it takes to unite the world. -gw

THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE - Bahá'í World Centre, April 2002 -
To the World's Religious Leaders,
The enduring legacy of the twentieth century is that it compelled the peoples of the world to begin seeing themselves as the members of a single human race, and the earth as that race's common homeland. Despite the continuing conflict and violence that darken the horizon, prejudices that once seemed inherent in the nature of the human species are everywhere giving way. Down with them come barriers that long divided the family of man into a Babel of incoherent identities of cultural, ethnic or national origin. That so fundamental a change could occur in so brief a period — virtually overnight in the perspective of historical time — suggests the magnitude of the possibilities for the future.
Tragically, organized religion, whose very reason for being entails service to the cause of brotherhood and peace, behaves all too frequently as one of the most formidable obstacles in the path; to cite a particular painful fact, it has long lent its credibility to fanaticism. We feel a responsibility, as the governing council of one of the world religions, to urge earnest consideration of the challenge this poses for religious leadership. Both the issue and the circumstances to which it gives rise require that we speak frankly. We trust that common service to the Divine will ensure that what we say will be received in the same spirit of goodwill as it is put forward.
Bahá'í World Centre * April 2002 * To the World's Religious Leaders
So begins the Universal House of Justice letter. Click here for the full text.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

On Some Other Noteworthy Items from Neysn: The visual humor above and the food for thought below

I checked Neysn's blog Sharing and Caring and found some noteworthy items I missed when they were first posted. The visual humor above and the food for thought below.

At a youth class last year Mr Hooper Dunbar of the Universal House of Justice outlined the following elements for an in-depth study of God Passes By, as described in a post by Neysn. How well do you know GPB? If you were constructing a study guide consisting of these elements, how long would it take you to put it together? -gw

*An outline for each chapter based on paragraph numbers
*A set of questions and answers based on each chapter
*Lists of the titles of the Central Figures of the Faith
*Annotations on various points requiring further explanation
*Short description of each of the tablets mentioned in the chapter
*Geographical place names and maps identifying their locations
*Biographical listings of individuals mentioned by chapter-separate lists for Persian and Western names
*Cross references to quotes from the Central Figures and others. Where are they cited from? *Where else are they quoted in Shoghi Effendi’s writings and message?
*Sources for quotations cited from other than the Bahá’í writings
*Charts and graphs of various points, when suitable
*List and definition of oriental terms found in each chapter under various headings
*Chronology of events in each chapter and for each of the four periods covered by the book

On a Complete Cross-referential Version of the Baha'is Most Holy Book: Brilliant

From Neysn by email, this tip. -gw

Borna developed this complete cross-referencial version of the Aqdas, where every related verse, note, questions, is linked. Brilliant work. I am amazed by the project.

During one of his Thursday evening study classes, Mr. Dunbar mentioned that we should attempt to cross-reference everything in the Synopsis and Codification of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas to the verses, questions and answers and notes. I decided to start doing that. After starting with the referencing, I realized that I had pretty much everything already in the database to put the entire Aqdas online. Even though there are plenty of sites available with the content, I still hope this site can provide something of use, mainly thanks to the search, cross-referencing and fullindex functions. A big thank you also to everyone who has helped me out in one way or the other. - Borna

On Our Radiant Youth: Not rock band Baha’is Behaving Badly, but Baha’is Performing Brilliantly on Rock Band

My wife did a post on our radiant Baha'i youth playing Rock Band. I feel so proud of them, and not just for their Rock Band-performing abilities. Here are a few photos. -gw

On Grassroots Is Good: Baha'is are transforming neighborhoods

Grassroots is good. So is local. Baha'is are about transforming neighborhoods. -gw

Transforming Neighbourhoods Home Page
Baha’is, their neighbours, and friends are working together to learn how to create a vibrant community life through activities designed to foster both material and spiritual progress in diverse neighbourhoods across the country. These activities engage people of all ages, from young children to elderly. In the following videos people share their experiences.

a web site of the Baha'i Community of Canada

On Baha'i Teaching in the United States: Sharing, Talking, Advancing

Barmak Kusha said in a comment to the previous post... -gw

Dear George : We here in Columbia, Maryland, just finished intensive phase of our 10th cycle of growth; it involved direct collective teaching, including door to door invitations to learn about the faith and Anna's presentation to those who wished to know more... You can learn more about our learnings on the blog!!

Indeed, teaching.baha' is where you can read of Barmak's teaching efforts and others such as this one from right here in Western Washington... -gw

FOUR more declare in Seattle Cluster!
The excitement is high as updates come from the friends in the Seattle Area Cluster (A) about their success in the teaching work! Just a few lines from 2 believers say it all . . .

E: FOUR more declarations in Seattle this morning!!

me: fantastic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

E: :) a whole family!Mom, and three kids (14, 15 &18)

me: Awesome!

E: Already they are eager to start Ruhi 1 (they declared at the morning devotions at the Ethiopian restaurant in South Seattle owned by a Bahá’í family). And an animator has already agreed to start a junior youth group for the 14 Ok, gotta run. They will be at tonight's musical devotions, too! Yay!!! Read more!

Indeed, read more... -gw

Direct Teaching Methods (27)
Community of Interest (22)
Collective Teaching Activities (19)
Intensive Programs of Growth (16)
Enrollments (14)
Expanding Children's Classes (14)
Cluster Coordination (11)
Exploring Home Visits (10)
Fostering Outward Orientation (10)
Effective Teaching Teams (9)
Rich Junior Youth Groups (6)
Youth in Action (6)
Enhancing Study Circles (5)
LSAs in the Plan (5)
The Role of the Tutor (3)
Vibrant Devotional Meetings (3)
Updates (2)
share your story. talk back. advance the Cause.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

On Numbers of Baha'is: Reflections on Our Renewed Direct Teaching Successes

With direct teaching occurring in the United States once again, and many other national Baha'i communities, too, and with enrollments the happy result of the effort, it raises the question of numbers. I, for one, have never been troubled by the differences in estimates of numbers of Baha'is in the world. Who can really be counted anyway?

I can attest to the ebb and flow of commitment to the Faith, having experienced it myself over the course of my Baha'i life. Sometimes I will say, don't count anything I did before Ruhi, as I only really became invigorated in the Faith through going through the sequence of courses, although I had been a Baha'i decades before Ruhi came to our area. Of course, I also used to say, don't count anything I did before the Youth for One World Seminar in Wilmette in the summer of 1969, because I really became a Baha'i through my exposure to Shoghi Effendi's Goal of a New World Order at that week-long gathering. So in a very real sense, being a Baha'i is relative. Quality counts, and numbers don't always compute.

So mass teaching is happening all over again. Woo hoo! I'll be doing Anna's presentation myself door-to-door here in Tacoma in just three weeks, and I can't wait. We have incorporated our learnings. We know that every new declarant will have opportunity to go through the sequence of Ruhi courses, like I did, and, like me, be confirmed in the process. The quality of commitment in the body of believers as a whole will continue to increase.

Here is the post on numbers of Baha'is that has sparked these thoughts. -gw

Most recent published estimates of the world Baha'i population are about 6.5 million. This is the figure provided in current Baha'i publications. A recent, updated estimate in the 1998 Encyclopedia Britannica is reportedly 7.67 million, higher than any Baha'i-provided figure we have seen. The accuracy of all of these figures is difficult to determine, and the organization does not provide a breakdown of membership data for each country.

As with most religious groups, organizationally reported adherent counts include significant numbers of nominal members, or people who no longer actively participate, yet still identify themselves as adherents. There are valid arguments that some of the "mass conversions" have resulted in adherents with little or no acculturation into the new religious system. As is typical with a religious group made up primarily of converts, Baha'is who drift from active participation in the movement are less likely to retain nominal identification with the religion -- because it was not the religion of their parents or the majority religion of the surrounding culture. On the other hand, there are no countries in which people are automatically assigned to the Baha'i Faith at birth (as is the case with Islam, Christianity, Shinto, Buddhism, and other faiths), so their numbers aren't inflated with people who have never willingly participated in or been influenced by the religion while adults.

On balance, while official Baha'i figures are not a measure of active participants, the proportion of participating adherents among claimed adherents is thought to be higher than average among the "major religions" on this list. The Baha'i community is remarkably active and influential in religious matters on both global and local levels, especially given their relatively small numbers compared to some other religions. More.

Thumbnails are from the "Baha'i" set of Steve Pulley on flickr. Click over for glorious pictures of Bolivian Baha'is from the 1960s. The middle photo is of Hand of the Cause of God Dr. Muhajir with children. -gw

On Diana's a Baha'i Now: It's official, she signed her card

Diana's signed her card and is saying the Long Obligatory Prayer already. She likes it because it is structured and laid out. -gw

I've officially signed my declaration to be a Baha'i. I thought long and hard about it- to be sure I was doing that for the right reasons. And honestly, I could see no reason NOT to. I believe in everything I am reading about the faith so far. Nothing rings false for me. Absolutely nothing.

I had quite the experience with prayer the other night. To be honest, I thought that I would get tired halfway through the long obligatory prayer, because that type of prayer is so different from the type of prayer I had encountered before, but it was so... amazing. I haven't been touched by prayer that way in a long time. A very long time. I actually think doing something structured and layed out was very good for my prayer. Made me able to speak up and talk to God alot easier than I had been able to lately. It was such a good feeling, to be that spiritually open. I can't even explain that feeling.

Well, it's time for me to get some sleep, so I can function for Classes, and perhaps do a bit of reading for fun. I'm reading the history of Baha'u'llah. I want to know more about him and the Bab specifically.

On Writing Challenge 6: The Baha'i lady's attempt at bringing life to a sad, sterile household with jam and pictures

There is a Baha'i angle to this story assignment from Amanda. -gw

Challenge 6
Write a story telling anecdote about a memorable character. ...

Point of view makes a difference. For example, if you wanted to tell about an elderly woman who tried to convert the next door family to her faith in baha'i by bringing over wild strawberryjam and pictures of foreign children, the point of view is everything. To a busy parent, the story might be about an interfering, spooky old lady. To the child, the story could be of a fascinating, kindly eccentric. To the believer in Baha'i, it might be a story of her attempt to bring some life to a sad, sterile household.

Name: Contraire
Theme: a writing community
Location: United States
About: I n t r o d u c t i o n
This is the for-the-most-part private community of five friends/peers/what have you who enjoy writing, prompts and critiques. The last one to a much lesser extent. If you happen to stumble upon here you are welcome to comment, friend, or read. No pointing and laughing. We reserve the right to ridicule, ban, or generally ignore and then delete those who burst our bubble.

{Photo: Uploaded on July 25, 2007 by nana_pei on flickr}

On Confusing Zoroastrianism and Baha'i: I can remember Santeria just fine

Katie is facing midterms. -gw

i could definitely ace this midterm, but i just don't have the motivation to focus on it for long enough to drill it all into my brain. and, for some reason, i keep confusing the practices of zoroastrianism and baha'i. don't ask me why, maybe because i had never studied them before in another class. although, i haven't studied santeria either, and i can remember that one just fine.
"Santiago de Cuba - Santeria," Uploaded on May 22, 2007 by alfonsobussolin on flickr, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic

On Jazzy, Funky, Bouncy Ayyam-i-Ha Parties: The Baha'i festivities have begun

The parties have begun. Happy Ayyam-i-Ha! -gw

Happy Ayyam-i-Ha!
by juliet: Ayyam-i-Ha began last night at sunset! We lit candles, prayed, opened gifts and blew up balloons. Paula was so excited about it all, she requested the box of balloons (her idea) be moved to her room so she could sleep next to it. ...

Strangely Becoming -
Happy Ayyam-i-Ha!
by Mitko: The days which Thou hast named the Ayyam-i-Ha (the Days of Ha, Intercalary days) in Thy Book have begun, O Thou Who art the King of names, and the fast which Thy most exalted Pen hath enjoined unto all who are in the kingdom of Thy ...
Happy Ayyam-i-Ha أيام الهاء
by Eman & Yasser: Ayyam-i-Ha, February 26-March 1. Days of Ha (ie the letter Ha, which in the abjad system has the numerical value of 5). Intercalary Days. The four days (five in a leap year) before the last month of the Bahá'í year, 'Ala', ...
Welcome to the Days of H!
by Barney: You can read more about the Ayyám-i-Há and what the Baha’i children of Solano, north of Manila, in the Philippines are doing to mark these days here. ...
Good clean fun!
by mo: This evening starts the holiday of Ayyam'i'Ha and part of that is giving gifts so the kids and I whipped up some soap for them to give to their friends. It really could not be easier so it is a great project for most ages. ...
Canadian Baha’is join in celebrating Ayyam-i-Ha
sunset on March 1st, Canadian Baha'is join Baha’is around the world in celebrating the festival of Ayyam-i-Ha by spending time with friends and family, helping those in need through acts of charity, and spreading joy by giving ...
a birthday review
by motherofchina: Then yesterday we had our family ayyamiha party. I enjoyed reminding my extended family of just how old they were. We do a white elephant thing every year and I managed to come home with some dishes that I really love. ...
Ayyam’i'Ha in Africa
by elp: she posted yesterday about her family’s Ayyam‘i’Ha preparations. Ayyam’i'Ha is a celebration of charity and goodwill in which those of the Bahai faith give and receive gifts as tokens of love, fellowship and unity. ...

On Managing Depression: Spiritual Solutions

Who is this radiant soul?
“I’m just a Writer with Roaring Flames in my Heart
and a Blogger with

a Global Agenda . . .”

I found out in ‘06 it’s likely I’ve had depression most of my life.
One of the people I live with has a similar history.
A number of my blogging friends are in the same boat.
I’m submerged in a medical treatment that increases depression.
I take medication but I realize it’s, at best, a chemical life jacket; certainly not something that can remove the Drowning Sea of Feelings…
I’m striving for a spiritual cure.


This Baha'i is a guide for us all in Exploring our Spiritual Nature: Benevolence in Dharmic Exploration. -gw

On Sonntag dann im Baha’i-Tempel bzw. dem Park davon entspannt: UB40 and Baha'i in Africa

Glad to hear that UB40 is still around and performing. UB40 in a soccer oval in Africa, then visiting the Kampala Baha'i temple. Nice weekend. -gw

Gestern dann UB40 live im Lugogo Cricket Oval (kenn auch nur 5 oder 6 Lieder von denen, aber wann ist schon mal ein großes Konzert in Kampala, das dazu mit ca. 10 Euro auch noch bezahlbar war). Hat durchaus Spass gemacht und war brechend voll. Sonntag dann im Baha’i-Tempel bzw. dem Park davon entspannt (Baha’i ist eine wir-verehren-alles-Splittergruppe des Islam und wer mehr darüber wissen möchte, muss sich an anderer Stelle schlau machen).

Yesterday then UB40 live in Lugogo Cricket Oval (also know only 5 or 6 of those songs, but when is already a big concert in Kampala, which has around 10 euros was also affordable). Did quite fun and was breaking full. Sunday then in the Baha'i temple in the park which relaxes (Baha'i is a worship-we-all-splinter group of Islam and who would like to know more about this, it must be moved to make smart). [Google language tools]

{Photo: UB40 performing in California, uploaded on November 30, 2007 by Ric e Ette on flickr, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic}

Monday, February 25, 2008

On Teaching Growth: It's no secret any more

Have you read your teaching.baha' today?


Los Angeles: 88 new believers during expansion phase

Las Vegas Valley: "I can't believe it! It is so easy!"
Dearest Friends, Great joy abounds in Las Vegas! As we end day 2 of our first intensive program of growth (IPG), 11 new believers have declared their belief in Baha'u'llah! This brings our total up to 16, bringing us close to our goal of 24.

Amazing growth in numbers and capacity!
We have read about it happening. We have dreamed about it happening. Now, it is happening in cluster after cluster across the country. Served by extraordinary individuals, teamed together by their passion and commitment to teach, each are reaching out to neighbors with prayer, love and fellowship to new neighborhoods and hundreds of newly declared Bahá'ís.

In just a few short months, significant numbers of new believers have joined the Bahá'í community, due to new and more intense approaches in direct teaching, emphasizing systematic, supported, and collective teaching practices. Phoenix, Tucson, East Valley, Atlanta and Los Angeles are reporting staggering growth in only the first few days of their newly-launched expansion cycles. Phoenix reported 70 new believers. Tucson noted just over 40. East Valley reported over 100 in just 9 days; so many that the core team stopped the expansion campaign after their second weekend to focus effectively on consolidation. Los Angeles reached over 70 at the end of its second weekend. Atlanta brought in over 60 at the end of its first weekend and “warm-up” phase! News does not stop there. More enrollments are being reported with each new day of the cycles from these and other clusters.

What is the secret? It is truly not a secret, but experience. . . here are some tips from those who were there . . . . .

On Youth Leadership: Capacidades para el desarrollo personal, para las relaciones interpersonales, y para la transformación soc

Baha'is all over the world are demonstrating cutting edge approaches to education. Vahid in Bolivia has some intriguing slides and photos on his Picasa site on the subject of youth leadership. -gw

Liderazgo Juvenil Evento de integración 1
Universidad Nur, Santa Cruz, Bolivia Photos: 23 - 4 MB
_pd (18, 9, 2007);
Sep 18, 2007 Public
Primer evento de integración del proyecto de Liderazgo Juvenil 2007.

On Whirlwind Declarations: So our community has doubled in size

Happy Ayyam-i-Ha to all, as the sun sets through my work window. Here is a teaching story to celebrate, one of many during this time of celebration. -gw

And then came Saturday, and the home visit to some seekers that I'd been asked to follow up with. Being not entirely insane, I asked my friend Shahab to come along with me. Good thing. We drove out to one of the housing projects, walked up to the apartment and found "Allah-u-Abha,” the Baha'i prayer and greeting that means "God is All-Glorious," written in chalk on the molding above the apartment door. We went in and spoke with the wife (who was raised in a Baha'i home but said she hadn't paid a lot of attention as a kid) and her husband, who had begun to learn about Baha'u'llah from his wife's parents. The family is Puerto Rican, and the complex where they live is nearly entirely Spanish-speaking.

We listened to their story, including the husband's explanation that he'd been raised Catholic but “it didn’t really take,” and when his mother-in-law told him about Baha’u’llah, he “felt that” (spoken as he thumped his fist against his heart). We walked through the statement on the declaration card with them, and found that at each step, they were offering up things they knew—the date of the Bab’s declaration; His station; Baha’u’llah’s place and date of declaration; ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s relationship to Baha’u’llah; and some of the laws, such as noninvolvement in politics. They lit up all over when we said they could register their kids at the same time--they have five under the age of 10, and filled out cards for all of them.

These incredible people called their older son (college-age) down from his room to be their when they signed their cards—although he is not sure that the Baha’i Faith is for him, he said he “had an open mind” and would listen to anything. And when we gave them some new prayer books and a copy of Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, they wanted to read prayers with us right away. Not only did the wife, Shahab and I each read a prayer, but the son asked to read one for youth, and then at his father's request, he read a prayer for unity (his dad does not read English fluently).

This couple has already been teaching the Faith to their neighbors, including one woman who knocked on their door to talk to them about Christ and the Bible. When she finished, the husband told her that there was something she needed to hear, and he proceeded to tell her about Baha’u’llah. She asked if she could come back and have him tell her more. Now, he says, the neighbor feels that Baha’u’llah is the truth and considers herself a Baha’i. That is just one of the neighbors who will be invited to the Spanish-language Ruhi 1 study circle I’ll be tutoring at their home (wish me Spanish is rusty!). Meanwhile, Shahab will be starting children’s classes for the kids and their neighbors. And upon learning that Troy has only about nine Baha’is, the husband said, “That’s not enough! We will have to talk to more people!” So our own community just doubled in size. And went from zero children to five of them. When added to a mother and her two children who enrolled as Baha'is late last week in a nearby city, our cluster grew by 10 percent in three days! And potentially more to come...!

Needless to say, the rest of Saturday was taken up with phone calls to members of our local community, our Auxiliary Board Member, and e-mails to members of the regional Baha'i Council. Plus a run to the grocery store with my friend Samantha, dinner out with Abby, Shawn and ART (who I introduced to refried beans and guacamole, because her parents and I are probably slightly warped). And then a few hours with my friend Dawn, both in her official LSA liaison capacity and mine as the cluster's data liaison, and also just as my pal who was cheering me on toward seeing a bit more of "that guy" regardless of my overwhelming inferiority complex and gigantic fear of rejection. :-)

JoAnn Whirlwind and Declarations! Goin' Up: My personal kitchen party. C'mon in. Pull up a chair.

{Re-posted with permission}

On Religious Affiliation: 28% have left the religion of their birth

From David on Correlating: A Personal (And Very Unofficial) Blog About The Baha'i Faith and the Social Sciences, evidence of religious ferment. -gw

The Switching Hour
Today's New York Times reports on a
Pew Forum survey of religious affiliation among Americans. We've known for a while that American's are switching religions and faith traditions at high rates, but these are the best numbers we've had for a while, and I think find even more fluidity and movement than people previously thought. Briefly, Pew finds that 28% of Americans have left their religion of birth for another religion or no religion (this second category is not atheists, but unaffiliateds, which is more in the 'spiritual but not religious' vein).

On the Gordian Knot: An intractable problem solved by a bold stroke

Gordian Knot - Crystalinks
The Gordian Knot is a metaphor for an intractable problem, solved by a bold stroke ...

"gordian knot," Uploaded on August 5, 2005 by shankargallery on flickr, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic

On THE GORDIAN KNOT - Cutting through barriers to sustainable prosperity for all, TMRich tells a story and makes a request. -gw

My Baha’i Faith offers this scripture: “Everything in life ministers to our development. Our lesson is to study and learn… Tests are either stumbling-blocks or stepping-stones, just as we make them.” This sounds counterintuitive but my friend’s life may be the best way to drive the point home. He embraced his brush with infamy as a kick in the pants to launch a new life. ...

Call to action: I am eager for stories of those who’ve pulled through a skid: health, finances, social stigma, natural disaster, you name it. I want to know what spiritual practices sustained them and the insights they gained. How has wretchedness given you a vision for a better life?

TMRich, "Losing Face, Finding Faith," THE GORDIAN KNOT - Cutting through barriers to sustainable prosperity for all

Sunday, February 24, 2008

On Coming Soon, Nineteen Days: The dawns and dusks of Amy and Leila's fasting experiences

Coming soon to your PC via the Internet. -gw

nineteen days * welcome

amy and leila will be posting pictures of the dawns and dusks of their fasting experiences, starting the night of Sunday, 2 March 2008, eastern standard time.

the Bahá’í Fast is observed for nineteen days of the year, every year, between the hours of sunrise and sunset—hence the timing of the photographs.

you can read an actual and virtual description of nineteen days here.

we are very excited about this project, so much so that not eating or drinking for thirteen hours a day has become something to which we are actively counting down the sleeps.


On a Ruhi Warrior Gets Appointed an Assistant to the Auxiliary Board: Awesome Day

"Some of the bricks at the Anne Frank memorial in Boise," uploaded on August 26, 2007 by tiwonge on flickr

"This faith has room for all kinds, mystics, administrators, etc.," Ruhi Warrior 19 writes. -gw

In the Bahá’í Faith, our highest authority is an elected body called the Universal House of Justice, who we consider to be infallible when making legislative decisions. They appoint the other branch of the faith who represent them, and while having no “power” help to make things run smoothly. On the most local level, following a line of appointment from the Universal House of Justice, are Auxiliary Board Members. (One for Protection, and one for Propagation.) Our Auxiliary Board Member for Propagation was in attendance, from quite a ways away. When he left he called me out to the car and we talked. He gave me a book and asked me to read it that I might better do what he had to request from me, to serve as his assistant for my area.

I have that sort of “ummm… me?” feeling, but I am very proud to do it. I accepted out of obedience, not confidence. I will serve as a representative between him and my area, and specifically when youth are involved. It means - which is very intimidating - that I am a part of a direct line of appointment from the Universal House of Justice. I am very intimidated, but very much looking forward to this. It will give me impetus to serve as I should and to be a better person, as I feel a healthy weight on my shoulders. ...

So, awesome day.

My name is Ruhi (arabic for sprit). I am a seventeen year old American Bahá’í convert. I am currently in my last year of highschool and my plans for the future are vague; I do plan however on pursuing a career in Bahá’í scholarship, thanks to the inspiration of two Bahá’í scholars and idols of mine,
Dr. Susan Maneck, and Dr. Moojan Momen. I spend most of my time involved in Bahá’í activities, and my faith is obviously quite important to me, however I do have a few other interests. History and Social Sciences fascinate me, as well as amateur web-design and creative writing. My friends are family are near and dear to me, and I have a close kinship with any animal I meet.
God Bless, Ruhi

A meeting of Auxiliary Board members and some of their assistants in our home a few weeks ago. -gw

Saturday, February 23, 2008

On Being Asked "Are You Baha'i?": No, I'm a non-practicing nothing, which pretty much leaves my options wide open

"The Battle of Pons Milvius" in the Room of Constantine (One of the Raphael Rooms) - Musei Vaticani," uploaded on November 14, 2006 by IceNineJon on flickr, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic

Oh, this is good, this is very good. -gw

I'm interested in doing my paper on the Baha'i Faith. My stylist is Baha'i, and so is my former Honors Mentor/Academic Advisor at my undergrad institution. Neither was raised in the Baha'i faith; not many are. They come to it in their adulthood. My stylist is Persian, my professor is Dutch. Calvinist. (Talk about beating the God right out of you.) My stylist's husband is also a college professor. And not knowing who else is a part of their devotional group, I am a bit concerned that most of them are also educated professionals and academics, which would put me smack-dab in the middle of that demographic. So, I raised this concern with professor. "Are you Baha'i?" he asked. "No," I said. "I'm a non-practicing nothing, which pretty much leaves my options wide open." The walls of the classroom seemed to expand and then contract sharply as everyone took this in, registered shock, and then gasped.

Dangerously Overeducated, "Let's Play 'Spot the Atheist,'" Welcome to Seminary: The random musings and pointed rants of a graduate student caught in an uncertainty of faith, disenchanted with organized religion...and enrolled in a divinity school.

On Baha'i References to "Matrix": For Walter and Rashid

Both fellow believer Walter and seeker Rashid like the movie The Matrix and say it has Baha'i themes. I'm not much of a movie-person, so I haven't seen it. But I gather that recognition of a Baha'i-The Matrix connection is a rather old story on the net.

I remember coming across the word "matrix" in one of the volumes of the Comprehensive Deepening Program from the 1970s. I remember thinking, what a modern word. Of course, Abdu'l-Baha used the word in his talks when in this country in 1912.

So, for Walter and Rashid, here is an excerpt from Abdu'l-Baha's talk on 1 September 1912 at the home of the Maxwell's in Montreal, Canada. -gw

The world of the Kingdom is the realm of divine bestowals and the bounties of God. It is attainment of the highest virtues of humanity; it is nearness to God; it is capacity to receive the bounties of the ancient Lord. When man advances to this station, he attains the second birth. Before his first or physical birth man was in the world of the matrix. He had no knowledge of this world; his eyes could not see; his ears could not hear. When he was born from the world of the matrix, he beheld another world. The sun was shining with its splendors, the moon radiant in the heavens, the stars twinkling in the expansive firmament, the seas surging, trees verdant and green, all kinds of creatures enjoying life here, infinite bounties prepared for him. In the world of the matrix none of these things existed. In that world he had no knowledge of this vast range of existence; nay, rather, he would have denied the reality of this world. But after his birth he began to open his eyes and behold the wonders of this illimitable universe. Similarly, as long as man is in the matrix of the human world, as long as he is the captive of nature, he is out of touch and without knowledge of the universe of the Kingdom. If he attains rebirth while in the world of nature, he will become informed of the divine world. He will observe that another and a higher world exists. Wonderful bounties descend; eternal life awaits; everlasting glory surrounds him. All the signs of reality and greatness are there. He will see the lights of God. All these experiences will be his when he is born out of the world of nature into the divine world. Therefore, for the perfect man there are two kinds of birth: the first, physical birth, is from the matrix of the mother; the second, or spiritual birth, is from the world of nature. In both he is without knowledge of the new world of existence he is entering. Therefore, rebirth means his release from the captivity of nature, freedom from attachment to this mortal and material life. This is the second, or spiritual, birth of which Jesus Christ spoke in the Gospels.

The majority of people are captives in the matrix of nature, submerged in the sea of materiality. We must pray that they may be reborn, that they may attain insight and spiritual hearing, that they may receive the gift of another heart, a new transcendent power, and in the eternal world the unending bestowal of divine bounties.

The Promulgation of Universal Peace
Author: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
Source: US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1982 second edition
Pages: 304-305.

{Photo: "a matrix dream," uploaded on April 12, 2006 by TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ on flickr, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic}