Friday, May 28, 2010

On Aspects of Contemporary Civilization: Uncivilized

What are the lamentable trends in contemporary life? Peter Khan's observations are incredibly astute, as summarized here: -gw

  1.  The tendency of an increasing proportion of the world’s population to regard religion as irrelevant in solving issues.
  2.  Forms of conduct we regard as improper even as society has come to accept them as normal and appropriate.
  3.  The side-effects of the blessings bestowed by technology, including a devaluing of real-life social interaction.
  4.  An abject failure of collective decision making and governance, with an associated decline in respect for authority.
  5.  A pervasive sense of insecurity that manifests in a lack of confidence in the future, a deep-seated animosity among opposing parties, an increasing vulnerability to demagogues, and an emotional adherence to simplistic solutions.
A Flickr gallery to illustrate these observations... -gw
  1. Uploaded on May 24, 2010 by Baha'i Views / Flitzy Phoebie
  2. Uploaded on February 16, 2009 by netmen!
  3. Uploaded on Uploaded on August 9, 2009 by Batikart
  4. Uploaded on May 3, 2010 by james eugene frank
  5. Uploaded on November 30, 2008 by POS'n_studio45_Illustra tions

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On Gettng 3 Cooks Together at Baha'i Devotions: Food for the soul

Bonita's "soul food" of the day: "Preparing Kala Chana"
Get three cooks together at a Baha'i devotional meeting and what do you get in addition to prayers? Cooking talk. Having the Smith family over was a delight. Gene cracked open a Baha'i prayer book and found the experience positive. -gw 

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

On the Function of a Gardener: To till the soil

... the function of a gardener is to till the soil of the mineral kingdom....
What a wonderful metaphor, to till the soil.... -gw

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On We Are a Baha'i Community: Not a congregation

To mistakenly identify Baha'i community life with the mode of religious activity that characterizes the general society -- in which the believer is a member of a congregation, leadership comes from an individual or individuals presumed to be qualified for the purpose, and personal participation is fitted into a schedule dominated by concerns of a very different nature -- can only have the effect of marginalizing the Faith and robbing the community of the spiritual vitality available to it.
The Universal House of Justice, Aug 22, 2002
A congregational experience is passive. A Baha'i community is not a congregation. Baha'is are geared towards action and individual empowerment. Baha'is are forever in a process of change, and the process is long term.and systematic. Have you listened to Peter Khan's talk at the U.S. Baha'i National Convention? Go to the administrative website to listen and download. It's all about change.
The principle of the Oneness of Mankind—the pivot round which all the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh revolve...does not constitute merely the enunciation of an ideal, but stands inseparably associated with an institution adequate to embody its truth, demonstrate its validity, and perpetuate its influence. It implies an organic change in the structure of present-day society, a change such as the world has not yet experienced. It constitutes a challenge, at once bold and universal, to outworn shibboleths of national creeds—creeds that have had their day and which must, in the ordinary course of events as shaped and controlled by Providence, give way to a new gospel, fundamentally different from, and infinitely superior to, what the world has already conceived.

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On Purity and Holiness: Cleanliness will conduce to spirituality

One of the very first things you can do to improve the nature of your home is the tidy up your area. This not only improves hygiene and makes it safer for you and your family to live, but can actually alter your mentality in a positive way. Our brains are affected by their surroundings, so if their surroundings are all over the place, ugly and unpleasant to be around, this will be reflected in your mental state. Some religions, such as Baha’i, even place living in a clean area as a vital spiritual necessity.

Dried roses and morning coffee

My meaning is this, that in every aspect of life, purity and holiness, cleanliness and refinement, exalt the human condition and further the development of man’s inner reality. Even in the physical realm, cleanliness will conduce to spirituality, as the Holy Writings clearly state. And although bodily cleanliness is a physical thing, it hath, nevertheless, a powerful influence on the life of the spirit. It is even as a voice wondrously sweet, or a melody played: although sounds are but vibrations in the air which affect the ear’s auditory nerve, and these vibrations are but chance phenomena carried along through the air, even so, see how they move the heart. A wondrous melody is wings for the spirit, and maketh the soul to tremble for joy. The purport is that physical cleanliness doth also exert its effect upon the human soul.
Be a clean machine. -gw

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

On Now You Can Fly: Virtual circumambulation of Baha'i sites via Google Earth and more

For my wife, viewing Google Earth is a profound meditational exercise. She is forever sitting at the computer looking up places she reads about or hears about on TV. Dick Proenneke's cabin: she knows right where it sits on Twin Lakes in Alaska. Japan: it's her favorite country to view from the satellite perspective. Last night I got to bed an hour later because I thought I would spend a few minutes looking for our next camping spot in Eastern Washington. Well, those few minutes turned into a whole lot more. Ever check out the Baha'i Houses of Worship on Google Earth? James has all the coordinates on his site. Click over. -gw
Back in 2006 I posted this article giving the locations of various Baha’i sites for anybody wanting to zoom in on them in Google Maps or Google Earth. Back then a couple of the buildings were obscured by clouds, those clouds are now gone and, if you have 3D Buildings turned on, you can now fly around 3D models of the exteriors to most of the buildings.

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On Suicide: To end one’s life before the unfolding of one’s full potential

"Walk, Illlustrated Poem" Uploaded by Angela Hayden on flickr

"Commiting suicide is like arriving uninvited at a party." I don't know where I first heard this, but it is in keeping with Baha'i belief. There are many worlds of God, the soul progressing from one to the next. "Death is a messenger of joy," the Baha'i Writings tell us, but taking one's life is contrary to God's wishes for us. -gw

From The Baha’is of Kaua‘i

One of the purposes of life is to develop spiritually. To end one’s life before the unfolding of one’s full potential would, therefore, hinder the soul’s progress. God is the creator of life and He alone determines when the soul is ready to move to the next plane of existence.

Life is never stagnant. During times of sorrow or grief, life may feel unbearable and thoughts of suicide as a means of escape may seem the only way out. We are counseled to turn to God and pray for assistance.

The following Baha’i writings provide comfort and assurance:
“Grieve not, for I am thy true, thy unfailing comforter. Let neither despondency nor despair becloud the serenity of thy life or restrain thy freedom.”

“O God! Refresh and gladden my spirit. Purify my heart. Illumine my powers. I lay all my affairs in Thy hand. Thou art my guide and my refuge. I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved; I will be a happy and joyful being… I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life. O God! Thou art more friend to me than I am to myself. I dedicate myself to Thee, O Lord.”

Posted in Local on Monday, May 24, 2010 11:45 pm Tags: Spiritual Leaders, Suicide,

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Monday, May 24, 2010

On the Prayer of a Righteous Man Avails Much: Rocky's testimony

A Baha'i's testimony. -gw

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On Effective Approaches to Marital Conflict: Gottman's got it

“Bahá’í marriage is union and cordial affection between the two parties. They must, however, exercise the utmost care and become acquainted with each other’s character. This eternal bond should be made secure by a firm covenant, and the intention should be to foster harmony, fellowship and unity and to attain everlasting life.”
The best conceptual approach to address marital conflict, in my view, can be found in the work of University of Washington professor John Gottman, whose advice, based on extensive research, is in keeping with what Abdul-Baha, no doubt, would call upon Baha'i partners to do. -gw
The Gottman Institute January 20, 2010You've approached your partner in a gentle manner, to bring up an issue you want to discuss (called a "softened startup"). What if you get negative response? Listen to Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman explain how to work around this. For more information visit

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On a Ruhi Baha'i Study Circle Intensive: Amidst orchids and objects of art

The term study circle has become common terminology in the Bahá'í Faith to describe a specific type of gathering for the study of the Bahá'í teachings, with an emphasis on "promoting the well-being of humanity."[1]

Study circles are a form of distance learning designed to systematically bring education about spiritual concepts to the grassroots level. Because they are intended to be sustainable and reproducible on a large scale, study circles shy away from formally taught classes, opting instead for participatory methods. They are usually led by a tutor whose role is not to act as an expert but rather to facilitate the rhythm and pace of the study circle. In this way, attendees of study circles are expected to become active participants in their own learning process.

Another foundational principle of study circles is a heavy emphasis on the Bahá'í writings as a means of finding unity of vision and action by focusing on the essentials of Bahá'í belief.

We drive to a home on a hillside for a day-long intensive. At the beginning of the morning we stand at about the half way mark in our book, but by the end of the day we only have 11 sections left, which we should be able to complete in about four more weeks. It looks like we'll be done by the end of June. That is our goal.
These pictures capture a bit of the ride to Sequim, the location for our intensive, the actual intensive sessions, the beauty of the home we are in with its orchids and objects of arts, and the sumptuous fare we enjoyed during our lunch and breaks. Thanks to our hosts. -gw

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On a Spiritual Place: Pause to wonder, stand rapt in awe

Uploaded on May 24, 2010 by Bloo_mountain on flickr
The height of the spring season is a perfect time to visit the Baha'i House of Worship. -gw
The Baha’i temple in Chicago. It’s a nice place to visit if you’re looking for something peaceful or spiritual there.

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

On Improving Outcomes for Young Children: Tend the young trees of the Abha Paradise

Tend the young trees of the Abhá Paradise with the welling waters of His grace and peace and joy. Make them to flourish under the downpour of His bounty. Strive with all thy powers that the children may stand out and grow fresh, delicate, and sweet, like the ideal trees in the gardens of Heaven
I participated in a early childhood mental health consultation group on Friday with a diverse group of providers who work with young children. We are all motivated by the prospect of improving the outcomes of young children with severe behavioral and emotional problems through our collaboration. -gw
Child care, early childhood education, and early intervention programs for children with special needs are provided in a wide variety of settings. These settings include centers operated on both a for-profit and a not-for-profit basis, such as family child care homes, public and private nursery schools, prekindergartens, and home-visiting programs. The quality of these arrangements varies dramatically. Some factors related to quality of care are regulated by government (for example, child and staff ratio, group size, physical facility features, and minimum caregiver training). But other critical components are more subjective, and their quality cannot be easily regulated. Examples of these components include the nature and frequency of caregiver-child interactions, teaching and learning styles, and sensitivity of programs to the cultures, languages, and preferences of the children and families they serve.
Early childhood providers report that they see increasing numbers of children with special needs (who may or may not meet eligibility criteria under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act [IDEA], Part B or Part C). Violence, abuse, prenatal substance exposure, losses due to incarceration or death, or residing with multiple caregivers or in foster homes often has significantly affected the lives of children who display severe behavioral and emotional problems (Sameroff & Fiese, 2000). The literature suggests that children who struggle with behavioral and emotional problems at this young age have a 50 percent chance of continuing to struggle into adolescence and adulthood.

Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation,

Elena Cohen & Roxane Kaufmann

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Rocky's Pride & Joy: 8 year-old Tierra Cockrell breaks the world record for the long jump for her age group

My grandbaby did it again in San diego


Rocky c

As part of our continuing coverage of the amazing Tierra Crockrell, granddaughter of Gig Harbor Baha'i Rocky Crockrell... -gw


University Place’s eight-year-old Tierra Cockrell broke the world record for the long jump for her age group last weekend in San Diego. She jumped 13.9 1/4 (wind legal) to break the record and 14 1/4 (wind-aided) long jump which is also the world record.

She also tied the national record in the high jump with a jump of 4 feet, 2 inches.

Two weeks ago at the Phoenix Invitational in Glendale, Ariz., the young track star had tied the world record.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

On a Mighty Fine Looking Baha'i Building: In Hobart (not Indiana)

Hobart Baha'i Center, Uploaded on May 20, 2010 by Snuva on flickr
This is a mighty fine looking building to be associated with the name of the Faith. -gw

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On Resisting All Iranian Social Pressures: To wear black on special occasions

Here is the tail end of an interview of an American woman married to an Iranian. -gw
Tell us a funny story about a cultural difference that you experienced.
My husband is an architect, so at the time, our house had pristine white modern walls with a minimalist design. When my husband's father first came to stay with us from Iran (he had been unable to get a visa for many years) he came through the front door, he looked around the house somehow not realizing the great architectural statement we were trying to make, and very kindly offered to hammer a nail into the wall as it seemed there was no place for him to hang his hat.
What advice would you give to other girls who are engaged to an Iranian man?
Learn to speak Persian, you life will be easier. Resist all Iranian social pressure to: wear black on all special occasions, demand your children become doctors or engineers, haggle with a shop keeper down to the lowest price (your future husband can do that!). Relax, and become part of the family very quickly.
Live life Persian style - Marrying an Iranian man - Interview with Jean

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On Expressions of Faith: Religion renewed

There is tremendous diversity in what people believe. When I'm in someone's home I look for evidence of expressions of their faith.

The expectations that people have about the future are often influenced by their religious beliefs. For evangelical Christians there is often a focus on the return of Christ. 

The renewal of religion through the emergence of an Abraham, Moses, Christ, and Muhammad,  a Krishna and a Buddha, each coming in fulfillment of the prophecies of Manifestations of God that came before, is basic to Baha'i belief. It is the conviction of Baha'i's that Baha'u'llah is the latest of these great religious figures.

In these photos, all taken in one house, I find evidence of a fervent belief in Jesus Christ and his emminent return. I also find on the shelves a book that at least notes the claims of Baha'u'llah. -gw

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

On an Appreciation of Water: Thanks be to irrigation

This is an overnight canoe paddle we've never taken. We have canoed from the starting point down a few miles and then back as a day trip, but never from the put-in point on Dobson Rd all the way to the Potholes Reservoir.
Last weekend we explored lakes along the Winchester Wasteway that are accessible from near the Potholes State Park. Our campsite was a primitive site, exquisitely isolated, with a great view of the water.
It is irrigation run-off that created the lakes and wetlands we explored. Grant County, where we went for our nature experience, would be nothing by desert sage brush were it not for the Grand Coulee Dam, completed in the 1930's, which has provided the irrigation for agriculture throughout Central Washington. We passed mile after mile of orchards of every kind on our way to our campsite. Those trees, including the trees upon which are grown the famous Washington State apples, are all irrigated by the water of life diverted to their roots. Abdu'l-Baha uses irrigation as a metaphor in this discussion of the Coveant of God in the following passage. -gw
The more this Covenant is strengthened, the happier, the better, the sweeter it will be and it will thus attract the divine confirmations. If the friends of God are wishing for confirmation in order to enjoy the friendship of the Supreme Concourse, they must exert themselves to confirm and strengthen this Covenant; for the making of a covenant, and an alliance for brotherhood and unity is like unto the irrigation of the tree of life which is conducive to eternal life!

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On Fit & Feisty: Bonita hauls in the canoe

Operating a camera can be a full-time job. There may not be even enough time to pull a canoe out of the water. So it's good to have strong help. Here Bonita graciously does the job on our recent camping sojourn to Desert (Fidesco-Harris) #3, Winchester Wasteway, Grant County WA. -gw

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On the Road for Baha'i Feast: Arlene kindly takes us in

I remember hearing a story about a community of Baha'i refugees in Africa who continued the rhythm of Baha'i life during their exile, continuing to hold their Feasts as they moved from place to place. I thought of this story on this last Feast day when, through a slight mix-up, we couldn't hold Feast at our scheduled location. No problem. One of the friend's volunteered her home, so we went there instead. No matter that it wasn't in Tacoma. We were refugees for the evening, celebrating our Feast on the road. -gw  

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

On Spiritual Ideas: Classical rap

Today at a Glance By Dana Murdock

Photo By Skye Ramseyer

Photo By Skye Ramseyer


Today in George Frissell’s Classical Ideas class, they had guest speakers from the Baha’i faith. The speakers discussed what it meant to be Baha’i. One speaker, a spiritual rapper, rapped for the class at the end of the hour.

That Baha'i rapper who visited Hickman High is a Facebook friend of mine. -gw

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

On Teaching More Than Two Religions By Teaching One Religion: Avoiding "mile wide, inch deep" religious education

Photographs by Chris Nolen taken of Baha'i children's class in the Pierce Pennisula WA
...what’s wrong with “multifaith?” Nothing, except that to my ear, “multifaith” strongly connotes more than two religions. The word does reflect the reality of a small but growing cohort of interfaith kids (those with, say, one Jewish grandparent, two Christian grandparents, and one Hindu grandparent). On the other hand, it seems to invite the all-too-frequent criticisms of “mile wide, inch deep” religious education. Teaching more than two religions with depth and meaning is a daunting task, though one that is admirably tackled by Unitarians, and Baha’i.
The Baha'i solution to teaching about more than two religions is by pointing out that, really, there is only one religion, "the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future," revealed progressively, throughout time. -gw  

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On Natural Religion and Raw Foods: Non-mainstream views

My daughter-in-law, Laurel, is a raw foods chef and a Baha'i. She would enjoy this blog post -gw
a friend visited our apartment tonight in order to talk about the Baha’i Faith. Halfway through the evening, I discovered that she is also into raw food! I’ve found that a significant portion of society responds to non-mainstream views on food with dismissal at best and outright malice at worst, so on top of the enjoyment of an evening dedicated to discussing the Baha’i Faith, I couldn’t believe my luck that we got to have a pleasant conversation about raw food as well!

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On Call for Arts Proposals for Association for Baha'i Studies Conference: Gathering Aug. 12-15, 2010, in Vancouver, BC

The Arts Task Force for the 2010 Association for Bahá’í Studies Conference invites proposals from artists interested in presenting or performing at the conference. The theme of this year’s conference is “Rethinking Human Nature”. The theme Statement can be found at

We are looking for artists to present or perform material that explores of the theme of “rethinking human nature” — including art that deals with transformation, emotive and spiritual depth, upliftment, human potential, aboriginal and other diverse perspectives.

Artists from all disciplines are encouraged to make proposals: dance, theatre, poetry, music, visual art, video art, and so forth. (Please note that time and physical restrictions do not allow for full theatre or dance productions. Visual art is usually presented by being projected as installation/ exhibition of actual work is not generally feasible.) All conference participants, including those submitting scholarly presentations or artistic presentations for consideration by the conference organizers, are required to pay conference registration fees. In cases where financial assistance is required, we ask that you contact the ABS office.

There are four possible ways artists might be utilized at the conference:
1) Devotions—as readers, musicians, singers, projected visual artists, dance/movement artists.
2) Main stage performances—we have a few slots, utilizing any of the disciplines listed above.
3) Late night performances—whether planned or “open mic,” we need people interested in sharing their gifts and perhaps serving as MC(s).
4) Short presentations before break-out sessions (i.e. presentations of various simultaneous topics). We will compile a “resource list” and ask presenters if they would like a short piece (music, poetry, dramatic reading) at the beginning of their session.
Note: There may be collaborative possibilities at the conference and beyond.


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Monday, May 17, 2010

On Cutline of the Day: Haircut as a performance at the SF Baha'i center open mic

The cutline accompanying this photo really got my attention. -gw

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On Baha'is in Devotion: They would sing songs even if nobody else knew the words to sing with them

Devotions and song
Mr Cat is one of the contributors to Baha'i Coherence but also has a blog of his own, from which this marvelous reflection of one of the core activities of Baha'i community life, the devotional meeting, comes. Click over to read the post in its entirety. -gw
When I was first introduced to the Baha'i Faith, the Baha'is I knew were conducting a devotional gathering at a nearby home. The first time I gathered with the Baha'is to pray I was struck by the simplicity and focus of their approach to communal prayer. There were no rituals. Socialization waited until after prayers were done. Participants would recite prayers individually as they felt inspired. They would sing songs even if nobody else knew the words to sing with them.

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On inter-faith relationships: The truth is, we can't push someone to believe something

From a column in the Jamaica Observer. -gw
Fortunately for attorney Stacey Mitchell-Frazier, her husband, who had been raised in the Methodist and Anglican churches, did not have a problem with the fact that she subscribed to the Baha'i faith.

"It was something that was placed on the table pretty much immediately and up front, and he has been supportive. I don't try to force him to do anything, he doesn't try to force me to do anything, I think he knows that I am strong and committed in my views and somehow we have been able to work with it," she said.

She said although her religious practices require a great deal of time and commitment on her part, this has not affected her three-year-old marriage.

In fact, she said her husband has been very supportive.

"He has been to Baha'i events, I went to pilgrimage to Israel two years ago and he came with me. He has been to Baha'i observations, we have said prayer together and I have used Baha'i writings on different things at our house and so he has participated in those things," she said.

She said a mutual respect for each other's beliefs has made it easier for them to live harmoniously, even long before they were married.

"; that's not a helpful process, in fact it would be an insulting activity," she said.

"Sometimes there are differences yes, but the truth is religious beliefs is a personal thing and one has to be respectful of different things, you are not always going to agree on the details, but I find that a lot of times, the fundamentals are similar."

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On an Open Letter to Last Stop Computer: I'm ready to go

When will my computer be ready for pick up? We're a one-computer family. No iPhone. A lot of things are happening and I want to write about them. I have a lot of pictures to post. Please finish the repairs quickly. I'm feeling desperate.
p.s. This is the message I want to hear: Go play.

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On the Status of True Lovers: Replicating the prison conditions of the 7 Baha'i Leaders

Friday, May 14, 2010

On Coming to a Baha'i Feast Near You: All About Intensive Programs of Growth

Zabine Van Ness: Everybody has a part to contribute according to their passion and commitment.
I learn via Zabine (bless her heart!) on Facebook about the focus of the next Baha'i Newsreel -- IPGs. So as not be jargon-y, an Intensive Program of Growth (IPG) is the term Baha'is use for their plan for collective action to "grow" the Baha'i Faith. There are more than 1500 communites in the world today that have Intensive Programs of Growth. -gw
Our latest Newsreel (set to be released this week!) is all about IPGs - Intensive Programs of Growth. But first thing's first: what exactly is an IPG again? Check out this video to learn, or to remember! For more videos about IPGs - attend your community's Feast this week! Or you can see them shortly online at:
Length: 3:55

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

On Baha'i Development in Rural Areas As Advocated by ‘Abdu’l-Baha: Self-sufficiency and self-reliance

"Jordan" Uploaded on March 22, 2010 by Fadi Alsabbagh on flickr

This paper comprises of a systematic study of the work of Baha'i farmers, food growers and sharecroppers who, for over half a century (1906–60), toiled on the lands in ‘Adasiyyah, a village in the north-west of Jordan. The history of this community has been reconstructed from written and oral sources. The author presents the early history of this community from the time that ‘Abdu’l-Baha purchased the land for it. The earliest settlers were Baha'is of Zoroastrian background who moved there from Yazd in Iran. The author describes the gradual growth of this community, some of the problems that they encountered and the guidance that ‘Abdu’l-Baha gave them. In particular, the author concentrates on the agricultural development of the community's lands and the innovations that they introduced, some of which were subsequently taken up by other farmers in the area. Some conclusions are drawn about the features of Baha'i development in rural areas as advocated by ‘Abdu’l-Baha: the importance of agriculture to rural development; fairness and moderation in the landlord–tenant relationship; the importance of prayer and consultation in community decision-making and resolution of conflict; and the importance of developing self-sufficiency and self-reliance in rural populations.,id=9368/

Volume 16 of the Baha'i Studies Review is out. The article above, included in the volume, addresses what appears to be, if this abstract is any indication, a fascinating combination of subjects. Iraj Poostchi is the author of the article. The Editorial & Advisory Boards for BSR include the following members. -gw

Editors and Board Members
Edited by Steve Cooney, New Zealand and
Ismael Velasco, England

Book Review Editor: Daniel Grolin

Assistant Editors:
Oliver Christopherson
Zhamac Lee
Judith Oppenheimer
Duncan Thomas
Saleem Vaillancourt
Sathia Varqa

Editorial Board:
William Collins (Library of Congress)
Arthur Dahl (United Nations Environment Programme)
Nazila Ghanea (University of Oxford
Will van den Hoonaard (University of New Brunswick)
Stephen Lambden (Ohio University)
Todd Lawson (University of Toronto)
Ulf Petresson (University of Goteborg)
Sholeh Quinn (Ohio University)
Peter Smith (Mahidol University)

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On Laptop in the Shop: Time to memorize Baha'i Writings

Dandelion Uploaded on May 13, 2010 by Michele Marmotte on flickr
Verily, I implore God to gaze upon you with the eye of His mercy, to raise you through a godlike power, to move you by the breezes of His glory, to make you fluent in irrefutable and divine proofs and arguments, to sever you from the world and all therein, to purify and sanctify you from every material grade, and enable you to diffuse the bounties of the Divine Worlds.
This is the text I memorized last night while I cut my hair. It was Bonita's birthday.
We spent it at home puttering and preparing. I mowed the yard while Bonita popped out dandelions. I read from my Ruhi study circle materials that included the text above and from The Child of the Covenant by Adib Taherzadeh about Abdu'l-Baha, I cut my hair while Bonita watched old episodes of Deadliest Catch. Bedtime came early.
It was an oddly productive evening. Why? Because the laptop is in the shop. No Internet or e-mail reading at home and, of course, no blogging. What blogging I'm able to do is at work, before my workday as I'm doing right now, or at lunch.
This thing about how constant access to the Internet can interfere with living. It's kinda true. Moderation in all things. -gw

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

On Consumer Culture: Subject of 2006 Baha'i-written song

Speaking of consumer culture, it is interesting to note the album and title song Guilty Consumer by (then) 20 year-old Baha'i Rosie Smith that came out in 2006. You can hear an excerpt from it on Divine Notes on CD Baby. -gw

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On Studying the Ridvan Letter: This is a way to do it

Uploaded on May 11, 2010 by AsianTulip on Flickr
Baha'is study things. It's all a part of Baha'i culture. Baha'is study and consult, engaging in systematic collective action. One of the documents of study is the Ridvan Message, the annual letter from the world governing body for the International Baha'i Community, the Universal House of Justice. The most recent message received makes for especially compelling reading. While last year's message was one page, this year's message was 11 pages. With great joy Baha'is are presently studying the document both individually and in groups. -gw

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On Living Simply: In the light

The document, titled "Rethinking Prosperity: Forging Alternatives to a Culture of Consumerism," challenges the view that there is an intractable conflict between what people want – which supposedly is to consume more – and what humanity needs.

"Much of economic and psychological theory depicts human beings as slaves to self-interest," it says. "The faculties needed to construct a more just and sustainable social order – moderation, justice, love, reason, sacrifice and service to the common good – have too often been dismissed as naive ideals. Yet, it is these and related qualities that must be harnessed. ..."

A couple of weeks into his new job, my middle son is living simply in Denver, his apartment (pictured below) looking quite bare-bones. His latest email is below. -gw

From: Tarazullah

If you could just send my black hangers, that movie - Where the Wild Things Are, and i think there is a plastic bag in the closet of the study, a white plastic bag. I dont know whats in it. but i think it could be sent. Ohh and that blanket!! thanks. thanks all i can think of now. I thought there was more. Ohh well.


See and download the full gallery on posterous

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Monday, May 10, 2010

On the Power and Influence of Music in Our Communities: Dance, dance

SPECIAL EVENTS at Green Acre this summer. -gw

May 22: An Evening of Persian Music and Dance

May 29: An Evening of Latin-American Music and Dance

August 27 - 30: The Power and Influence of Music in Our Communities - Van Gilmer (3-day program)

Like salsa? June 09, 2008one of the presentations during the Mt Barker Baha'i Community 7th Annual International Dinner in Australia. -gw

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On a Special Remembrance This Friday To Remember the Baha'is of Iran: Saying prayers, taking action

Friday marks the second anniversary of the group's imprisonment, and details continue to emerge about the severe conditions under which they are being held. It is known, for example, that the two women and five men are confined to two cells which are so small that they restrict adequate movement or rest.

"They have neither beds nor bedding," said Ms. Dugal.

The place has a rancid smell, and they are permitted to have fresh air for only two hours each week. They have a light that if turned off during the day makes it impossible for them to see anything.

"Contact with their loved ones is restricted to one 10-minute telephone call a week, or visits which are mostly conducted through a glass barrier," Ms. Dugal said.

"Such inhumane conditions show no regard for the principles outlined in international agreements for the treatment of prisoners, which provide that no one may be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment," she said.

"The prisoners' own requests for modest improvements to their conditions remain unaddressed, and as a consequence their health is suffering.

"These people are innocent, and there is no reason they should be made to suffer like this," she said.

According to the journalist Roxana Saberi – who shared a cell for three weeks with two of the Baha'i prisoners – the women are confined in a small space. "They roll up a blanket to use as a pillow," she said. "The floor is cement and covered with only a thin, brown carpet, and prisoners often get backaches and bruises from sleeping on it. ... When I was with them, we were allowed into a walled-in cement yard four days a week for 20 to 30 minutes."

International action

The Universal House of Justice – the head of the Baha'i Faith – has called for the worldwide Baha'i community to host special prayer meetings across the globe this Friday, to remember the Baha'is of Iran and all their compatriots who are similarly subject to oppression.

Each of us is invited to take action. -gw

Take Action!
We invite you to commemorate this anniversary by taking the following action before May 14th, 2010 to highlight the cases of these 7 Baha’i citizens. Because these 7 members of the Baha’i community have spent the last two years sleeping on concrete floors in small, confine spaces, we invite you to demonstrate your solidarity with and support for these prisoners by doing the following:

1. In any space, mark off, cut out, or draw a box the size of an Evin prison cell: 2×3 meters to represent the space of the two women or 3×4 meters to represent the spaced shared by the five men. (For those of you with yardsticks, this translates to 6.5 x 9.8 feet for the women’s cells and 9.8 x 13 feet for the men’s.)

2. Easy ways of making these cells include marking off areas with yarn or rope in grass, cutting out or using butcher paper of the above sizes, or even using chalk to sketch the cells on the ground.

3. Just as these seven Baha’i prisoners have done for the past two years, share the “cells” with other people, two people per small box and five for the larger.

4. Pre-print one of the suggested posters to include in the project, either by incorporating it into the cell or by having a participant hold it while standing in the “cell.”

5. Take pictures or shoot video of the cells being shared and send it to us at no later than May 14, 2010. Pictures and video will be compiled into slide-shows and other dynamic media that can easily go viral, forwarded to both those in Iran and across the world, in a collective effort to bring the international community’s attention to the ongoing arbitrary imprisonment that these 7 Baha’i citizens have endured.

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On a Trip to the Tri-Cities: Hanging out with the fam

We visited Matt and Ruhiyyih's home in the Tri-Cities over the weekend, joined by Laurel and Mehran,and  Annie, Daisy and Dan-Dan. Fun family times. Good food, good hiking, good conversation, good just hanging out.
Bonita and I slept in a tent in back. We hiked Bateman Island at the confluence of the Yakima and Columbia rivers under brilliant skies. Everybody took turns cooking. -gw

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Saturday, May 08, 2010

On the Glow of Ridvan: And afterglow

"Leuven @ Night - Image 14" on flickr
From: C. Schwartz
Subject: The secret bloom of Ridvan 
Allah-u-abha everyone,
I've written the following post on my blog to commemorate the "hidden" side of Ridvan:ḍvan/
Chris reflects beautifully on Baha'i subjects. -gw

...the gestures were faceless, in the form of the Flemish Government offering me an incredible scholarship to stay next year and continue my studies here at Leuven. The Belgian taxpayer has now not only allowed me to attend her best university at her expense, but she is now paying me to do it, too, and never once asking for anything in return.

When I think about some of the very negative things I have often said about Belgium since arriving last semester, I am ashamed and humbled. I was speaking out of emotional frustration, yes, but I was still wrong. I am reminded of the words of Baha’u'llah:

“O Emigrants!  The tongue I have designed for the mention of Me, defile it not with detraction. If the fire of self overcome you, remember your own faults and not the faults of My creatures, inasmuch as every one of you knoweth his own self better than he knoweth others. “

Indeed, I was overcome by the fire of self.  And yet somehow the hidden tenderness of the cosmos has looked through the blaze of that self, to the frail and often foolish ember within it, and rather than punish it by heaping upon more coals for the flames to burn, this great agapeia has chosen to douse the fire with the soft rain of abundancy and mercy.

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Thursday, May 06, 2010

On Going to Peggy's House: For the art and chocolate cookies

Peggy has been to our place many times, for Thursday night Baha'i devotions, typically. Yesterday we went over to her place for chocolate cookies and conversation, art and flowers. -gw

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On Roohey: Increase your capacity the safe & natural way

Martha likes this.
More from Adele & Brian, proving that Baha'is have a wicked sense of humor. -gw

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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

On Clerics Are Whispering: FIDES - VERITAS - LIBERTAS

Of the 2529 postings put up on Clerical Whispers so far in 2010 is the post above. -gw

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On Walter Heath's Music: True Christian love is where he comes from

After several weeks of constant reading and talking to many people, I embraced the Bahá’í Faith as my own.  Based on my background and my individual investigation, I saw Bahá’í as the fulfillment, not a denial, of my Christian faith.  It allowed me to see religion as one book of God with many chapters, progressively revealed to man according to our needs and capacity.  Abraham, Moses, Zoroaster, Krishna, Buddha, Christ, Mohammed, and now the Báb and Baha’u’llah, all are Divine Authors of these chapters.  Divine unity personified.

Months went by before I told my family.  My father took me aside and asked me did I still believe in God.  I told him even more so than before.  He then said that he had always tried to teach his children that we were the only ones who could save our own souls.  I was blown away with his reaction.  Not once did he show me any disapproval.  My mother was the same way, as were my brothers and sisters.  True Christian love.  That’s where I come from.

History lessons from Walter Heath, African-American and Baha'i. His songs always a favorite on the Black Men's Gathering albums, I love this man's voice. -gw

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On Further Study: Two Baha'i study circles

To my surprise, I was invited afterward to a home visit with "Jeff", a gentleman contacted recently who said he felt the Baha'is were guided to his door, as the Baha'i message seems to be something which he needs right now. He was warm, friendly, and spiritually deepened and had much to add to the scriptures we studied on the subject of honesty.

Because I was surprised to end up the day in this lovely study class, I was reminded of lyrics by Gerry Rafferty: "who knows what the day will bring, it can bring anything. Who knows if we'll still be here--we could be there.

"There is a verse by Baha'u'llah which I have always found touching, and I offered a song based on that verse, feeling that there are so many jewels hiding in our communities, waiting for us to meet each other. [Regard man as a mine, rich in gems . . . ~ Baha'u'llah.]

The song I offered:To gather jewels have I come to this world. If one speck of a jewel lie hid in a stone, and that stone be beyond the seven seas, until I have found and secured that jewel, my hand shall not stay from its rest.~ Baha'u'llah

Two circles,one purpose. -gw

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