Sunday, December 30, 2012

On Practice Teaching: Baha'i youth demonstrate their skills

We're doing Book 2 now at Michelle's -- began it last week. This week four radiant Baha'i youth came our circle to demonstrate their deepening themes presentation skills as learned through their completion of Book 2.  -gw

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On Rome Wasn't Built in a Day: But the institute process has us speeding along

Eight years after launching it's first Baha'i intensive program of growth, how are things going in the Triangle? Fabulously. 
The Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill) cluster of Baha’i communities was one of the first dozen in the U.S., in January 2005, to launch an intensive program of growth. It also serves as one of two learning sites in the U.S. for the junior youth spiritual empowerment program. ...

“In one particular junior youth group, a good 80 to 90 percent of the junior youths already are or will soon be facilitating core activities and also being part of the institute process.
“And I think one of the reasons for that is, one, the animators’ commitment to and, two, their understanding of the importance of the junior youth group as a means for empowerment.”

And in our cluster on the other side of the country, our junior youth program is going strong, too, for the same reason. -gw

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

On a Generation of Americans That Can't Agree: Because of prejudice

It's official. The most viewed "photo" on Flickr's Baha'i Views / Flitzy Phoebie is this cropped screenshot referencing System of a Down's song "Sad Statue." American's today can't seem to agree, can't come together, because prejudice -- the separation of the world into an "us and them" -- stands in the way of unity. -gw


What is in us that turns a deaf ear to the cries of human suffering?

You and me will all go down in history,
With a sad Statue of Liberty,
And a Generation that didn't agree.

On Dealing With Anxiety: Finding peace by understanding sin

I got my hands on some introductory books and was impressed to find that the teachings seemed water-tight. One particular teaching helped me overcome my life-long bane of anxiety. I heard a description of the Baha’i interpretation of sin—not that we do good or evil, but that we are always pursuing God, sometimes by looking to the heavens, and sometimes by looking to the dust. The peace I felt as I considered the idea is hard to describe.

Anxiety is a bane to many souls on this earth. Dealing with anxiety can involve changing our long-held thoughts and beliefs. What is sin? The definitions that some have of sin are a source of their suffering. -gw

Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value.
Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed After the Kitáb-i-Aqdas

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On Moving From Illness Into Wellness: One young mother's story about cancer

Don't make your healing a passive effort.

 Amanda Enayati

My friend Marco from Portugal conducted this interview. -gw

O seeker of the truth!
There are two ways of healing diseases, the material way and the spiritual way. The first is the remedies of the physician; the second prayers and turning one’s self to God. Both must be practiced and followed. The diseases that happen to be caused by physical accident are cured by medical aid; others, which are due to spiritual causes, will disappear by spiritual means. For instance: For a disease due to grieving, fear, nervous impressions, the spiritual remedies will take more effect than the physical. Therefore, these tow kinds of remedies must be followed; neither is an obstacle to the other. You must take care of the physical remedies. These also came from the bounty and mercy of God who revealed and made evident the science of medicine, so that His servants may also be benefited by this mode of healing. In the same way take care of the spiritual healing, because it giveth wonderful results.

Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas

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On a Song For Children: Reflection on growth

What is going well this time?
Let’s do more of the same!
What’s not going quite as well?
Let’s see what we can change!

Children’s Song for the Cluster Reflection Meeting

Sara Facebooked me with this item about a blog and a song, which features a children's song by one of my favorite Baha'i artists, Laura Harley. -gw
I've just discovered this Bahaí blog and came across a lovely little song for Reflection gatherings:

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

On Releasing the Power of Youth: You're not an adult yet, but you're not a kid

The music teacher at the First Creek Silent Auction credited high school students in attendance with having done most of the work on the fund-raiser. 

Recognition of the inherent capacity of youth is at the heart of the Baha'i-inspired Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program. 

Stephanie elaborates. -gw

From the beginning to the end of his life man passes through certain periods, or stages, each of which is marked by certain conditions peculiar to itself. For instance, during the period of childhood his conditions and requirements are characteristic of that degree of intelligence and capacity. After a time he enters the period of youth, in which his former conditions and needs are superseded by new requirements applicable to the advance in his degree. His faculties of observation are broadened and deepened; his intelligent capacities are trained and awakened; the limitations and environment of childhood no longer restrict his energies and accomplishments.

Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

On Baha'i Teaching on Christmas Day: Bound to happen

Another amazing email is making the rounds today, from the same dear soul who did a home visit Christmas eve. How can you top that? Well, by doing a home visit on Christmas day, of course! -gw
Chris and I just came back from our home visit to Amanda and Sean's house. 
It was very up lifting and warm. Sean was taking a nap so we had a great conversation with Amanda and Anthony. Since Anthony was present at the last devotional with all the JY and youth, asked if he likes to have a devotional at his place. He said yes and also he said he knows lots of kids in the area and he didn't need any help. He mentioned how much he likes the booklet on Love. Then we said a prayer for infant and Anthony said a prayer for youth.
Amanda was happy she could download the prayers on her IPad. As soon as she did that, she was going through some of the prayers and she recognized one of them that is put into song, "O God, my God, my Beloved, my heart desire." So we all sang that one. Then they asked about "O God, I'm weak, strengthen me," so we found that prayer and sang it together. By that time Sean had awakened from our prayers and singing.
We also did a deepening theme on investigation after truth and elimination of prejudice.
We talked more to Sean and Amanda about institute process and how different groups this week are going through different books.
He asked about George. Asked about the significance of number 19. Chris explained about the story of declaration on The Bab and the Letters of Living. Chris recommended Thief in the Night.
Hope everyone has had many great home visits this week.

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Set Before Thine Eyes God's Unerring Balance: Weigh thyself daily

Set before thine eyes God’s unerring Balance and, as one standing in His Presence, weigh in that balance thine actions every day, every moment of thy life. Bring thyself to account ere thou art summoned to a reckoning, on the Day when no man shall have strength to stand for fear of God, the Day when the hearts of the heedless ones shall be made to tremble….

On Christmas day we walked to the beach. Good exercise. -gw

Cairn is a term used for a man-made pile (or stack) of stones. It comes from the Scottish Gaelic: càrn (plural càirn).


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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

On Gearing up Four Our Next Intensive: Building on the last one

In just one short month we begin another intensive campaign in Cluster 19. We build on the progress made during the last one. -gw

Be ye confident and steadfast; your services are confirmed by the powers of heaven, for your intentions are lofty, your purposes pure and worthy. God is the helper of those souls whose aim is to serve humanity and whose efforts and endeavors are devoted to the good and betterment of all mankind.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, 23 November 1912
Talk at Banquet
Great Northern Hotel
118 West Fifty-seventh Street, New York

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On Home-visiting on Christmas Eve: Working towards a closer & connected coomunity

Yesterday afternoon I participated in a meeting about teaching. Then I chilled for the rest of the evening. After all, it was Christmas eve. I'm Baha'i. Don't want to bother anybody on Christmas eve. What did this Baha'i saint I serve with on our teaching committee do? She went home-visiting. Here is her report of the evening. 
Dear ones,
Thank you for sharing about the home visit, dear Chris.
I visited Marisol and her family. It was quit late on Christmas Eve, around 7:00, but I was already in Tacoma and needed to visit Marisol, to invite her for intensive book 1 on the 26th.
The mom open the door and was very warm. this was the first time, they invited me in side their apt. They offered a special drink they have made with fruits and tamali. We talked about the special devotional that her brother had participated in  at the Sunrise apts. We consulted how we can repeat it at Swan Creek. I asked how can we work towards a closer and connected community. She shared that there is a class prejudice. She explained, the prejudice is between those who can speak English and those don't. The conversation was very deep and moving.
She is willing to come to book 1 from the 26th-28th.
It was a beautiful evening.
Much love

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On the Challenge: Moving from conversation to participation

I reflected on this this morning. -gw

...the challenge of seeking out souls who are willing to engage in a conversation about the world around them and participate in a collective effort to transform it comes into focus.

Universal House of Justice, 12 Dec 2011

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

On He's a Hunter, Football Coach & a Baha'i: Travian

He's a football coach, he's a hunter, and he heard of the Baha'i Faith through a Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program animator. -gw

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On Undeterred By the Mud: Mudders in winter

Undaunted by the overwhelming forces arrayed against them, and undeterred by the snow and mud which had accumulated on the roads, they headed, without a pause, in the midst of the darkness that surrounded them, towards the stronghold which served as a 
base for the operations of the enemy

Winter time in Washington State. Time to go mudding. Only we don't do it this way ...

Photo credit: cncphotos

We do it this way...  -gw

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On Stepping Up to the Newest Version of Baha'i Views. 4.0

You are viewing the original Baha'i Views. It's not going away. It has all of the posts on it since day one, some 3615 altogether. The newest incarnation is Baha'i Views 4.0 with Google's Dynamic Views active on the site. It has the last 403 posts. For a better blog-reading experience, check it out. - gw

Blogged about Blogged about Blogged about Blogged about Blogged about

Saturday, December 22, 2012

On Rise Up: From the couch of heedlessness

Belief is a joke to this lost generation
Building the walls as the mind segregates 

But when all is said
The voice that is silent can't be heard 

So let us rise up
Stand and be counted, stand and be counted
On that let's agree
Rise up
Dig out the cancer; dig out the cancer of futility

Flogging Molly is a seven-piece Celtic punk band from Los Angeles, California. -gw

My companions in the dominion of My majesty and the intimates of My beauty in the heaven of My power forevermore. If ye rebel against Me, I will in My clemency endure it patiently, that haply ye may awaken and rise up from the couch of heedlessness.

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On Baha'i Writings Shared At Newtown Interfaith Service: The words of Abdu'l-Baha

On Dec 21, 2012, Robert said:

There is a Baha’i couple, John Woodall and Margo Deselin Woodall of Newtown, Connecticut who run a project called Unity Project. The project was started in New York to empower and build resilience in kids effected by 9-11. Later the project focused on the young victims of Katrina in New Orleans and Mississippi. More recently their efforts have been focused on child soldiers in Uganda.
The Woodalls spoke at the interfaith vigil in Newtown, CT this past week. President Obama was in the audience and spoke at the end as well.
The Woodalls’ segment is on YouTube:

John Woodall will be speaking at the Bluebonnet conference in Austin this Feburary:
More information about the Unity Project can be found here:

Thanks,Robert. -gw 

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On Green Chic: And in Chile, green construction

Flashbulbs went off as each model hit the runway in one-of-a-kind green chic at the seventh annual Recycled Fashion Show at Young At Art Museum in Davie.
The 23 teendesigners and 15 models that participated were from the museum and the PACE Center for Girls. The sold-out show raised almost $23,000 for the museum's teen and at-risk youth programs. ...
Runner-up went to Western High School's Sierra Slack, who utilized wrapping paper, fabric, lace remnants, tea and packaging foam for her dress representing the Baha'i Temple in Santiago, Chile.

How is the temple coming along, and how green is the construction? -gw

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On Breathtaking Achievements in Architecture: Responding to the intimations of the Divine

Which is more amazing, this detail of modern construction above from the Tacoma Convention Center, completed in 2004 , or this below of the Library of Congress, completed in 1897? Both seem amazing to me, miraculous, in fact, that human beings can apply their knowledge to bring them into existence

Down the millennia, the lives of those who responded to intimations of the Divine have inspired breathtaking achievements in music, architecture, and the other arts...


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On Real People on a Path of Service: New blogs, new entries

On Real Life, Real Service: An authorized biography on the first to arise

Here is the first chapter of an authorized blog/biography about the "mother of expansion," the first to open her home to Baha'i core activities on Tacoma's Eastside. Real life, real service. -gw

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Friday, December 21, 2012

On an Invitation to Grow Spiritually: And help others grow

Tyler at study circle at Michelle's

Bonita & I sure enjoyed our visit with Tyler and his mom Maria at their home Monday night. We had our own rich version of "Anna's Conversation." Tyler texted me a thank you the next day. "I want to grow and help others grow as well spiritually," he wrote. -gw

Maria on left and Tyler on right

It is not spiritually healthy to recognize the Revelation of God for this age—or at any period in history to recognize a Revelation sent by God for our good and development—and not embrace it. There is no middle course open for the soul who has found the Eternal Beloved. He must serve Him, or he will grow cold and spiritually confused.

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

On After the Shootings: A Tacoma school principal speaks

Last Saturday, a day after the shootings in Connecticut  I was at a school event in Tacoma. This is what the principal said. -gw

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On Get Down With the End of the World: Things are looking up, really!

To prepare for the end of the world, I folded my laundry and put it away. I'd hate for future archaeologists who come across my remains to think that I was untidy.

Todd posted this to his Facebook 4 minutes ago in Dallas. On another FB page is this... 

A Mayan elder visited Lake Elsinore Monday to assure residents the end of the world has not arrived.
Despite fears by some that Dec. 21, 2012 marks the end of time on the Mayan calendar, Alejandro Cirilo Perez Oxlaj -- otherwise known as Wandering Wolf -- promised an audience of about 75 gathered at The Diamond Club in Lake Elsinore that the world is safe so long as the generations adhere to the tenets of the ancients, which include caring for the planet and practicing peace.
Speaking through Peruvian translator Aymar Ccopacatty, Wandering Wolf, 84, told the crowd he lives in Guatemala and was elected by his people to serve as elder. He explained that under the Mayan calendar, earth is entering a sixth sun -- a time of new beginning, not a finale.
As for the end of being hype, Wandering Wolf called it nonsense -- an invention of the modern world.
"The Mayan calendar has not ended," the elder confirmed for Monday's audience.

End of the world? Things are looking up, really. Check this out. -gw

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

On Always Firesides: Individual teaching is always a responsibility


Shoghi Effendi praised firesides. Shadi and Chris have been having monthly firesides for the past two decades. We have our collective campaigns and our individual efforts. It all fits together. -gw

Thursday, December 13, 2012

On How to Tebow in Google's Top 10 Searches: Bowing to the importance of prayer

Googles top 10 searches beginning with "How to..." for the US are...
  1. How to love
  2. How to rock
  3. How to vote
  4. How to install
  5. How to hate
  6. How to archer
  7. How to wobble
  8. How to calculate
  9. How to root
  10. How to tebow

Photo credit: Photo Giddy

I prefer the full prostration that is part of Baha'u'llah's Long Obligatory Prayer to tebowing, but any practice that facilitates "conversation with God" is a good thing. -gw

Credit to Samuel Benoit: This drawing is a sort of infographic for the following two Writings from Baha'u'llah that can be found in this compilation from the Baha'i Writings:

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

On I Ride in the Car, I Listen to Music: Mix CD 21

I ride in the car. I listen to music. Every so often I put songs I like into a compilation. My 21st mix-CD in the HL series is done, 20 songs from six decades from the rock tradition. I'm exploring the present day through the artifact of songs. As always, the context is, the relationship of lyrics to the revelation of Baha'u'llah. Here are the first nine tracks.

Track 1 - 52 seconds of plucked strings, Godsmack's "The Journey." a little book called The Seven Valleys ... He describes the journey of travelers from the earthly dwelling to the Divine Home, 

Baha'u'llah and the New Era 

Track 2 - A metaphorical look at what's happening to the earth, climate change and all, Serj Tankian's 2012 "Cornucopia."

Do you believe in stormy weather, stormy weather
Hurricanes play musical chairs with homes and chattel
The whirling dervish tornadoes reek all disaster
Seesaw tsunamis give and take, what's the matter

 ...they tread the stormy yet glorious path of service for the furtherance of their beloved Cause.

Shoghi Effendi, Dawn of a New Day

Track 3 -  Sublime's dash of spirituality, their straightforward reggae cover of "Rivers of Babylon."

So let the words of our mouth
And the meditations of our hearts
be acceptable in thy sight 
over I

Grant that through the assistance of Thy grace whatsoever pertaineth unto me may be acceptable in Thy sight

Track 4 - Pedro the Lion's 1998 look at what we do for appearances sake, "When They Really Get To Know You, They Will Run."

Put on whatever makes you attractive 
If it's not you, then do it for the sake of fashion 
Your friends like a certain you 
That's who you've got to be 

...beware, O people, lest ye make yourselves the playthings of the ignorant.

Tablets of Baha'u'llah Revealed After the Kitab-i-Aqdas

Track 5: The Velvet Undergound's "Venus in Furs" classic (1967) homage to, yes, sadomasochism.

I am tired, I am weary
I could sleep for a thousand years

...we realize that Bahá’u’lláh has brought teachings and laws for a thousand years to come....

Track 6: The Meat Puppet's song "Creator" that closed out their original "Up on the Sun" album from 1985.

Some build elevators to take the chosen few
Who can afford the scenic view
To the top of some big tower looking out on fields of blue

All the teaching of the Prophets is one; one faith; one Divine light shining throughout the world.

Track 7: Cat Steven's 1970 song on "the sadness of leaving and the anticipation of what lies beyond," his  "Wild World."

But if you want to leave take good care,
Hope you make a lot of nice friends out there, 
But just remember there's a lot of bad and beware,
Beware, becomes clear, evident and proved, that man should associate with people who are firm in the Covenant and Testament, and befriend the pure ones; because bad associates bring about infection of bad qualities.

Track 8: Groove metal Pantera's 1992 release "Hollow" starts like a ballad and ends with riffs and growls.

We seemed like brothers.
Talked for hours last night,
About what we want to be

That all nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened....

Track 9: The first song on the post-punk 1980 debut album of  Echo & the Bunnymen, "Going Up."

If we should pull the plugs out
On all history
And all the mystery, yeah
Of things that shouldn't be

We have but to turn our gaze to humanity’s blood-stained history to realize that nothing short of intense mental as well as physical agony has been able to precipitate those epoch-making changes that constitute the greatest landmarks in the history of human civilization.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

On Illumined Tigers: Awarded for their efforts

The UTYA Tigers organization had their awards celebration last week. It marks the end of the end of the season, I guess you can say. Junior youth animator Ida joined me. She held babies and congratulated junior youth and their families Looking around the room, it was amazing to me to see how many there have participated in the institute process in one way or another. Jamayia's parents announced her retirement from football. "She's gonna be a coach instead," her father said. -gw

Wherefore, O ye illumined youth, strive by night and by day to unravel the mysteries of the mind and spirit, and to grasp the secrets of the Day of God. Inform yourselves of the evidences that the Most Great Name hath dawned. Open your lips in praise. Adduce convincing arguments and proofs. Lead those who thirst to the fountain of life; grant ye true health to the ailing. Be ye apprentices of God; be ye physicians directed by God, and heal ye the sick among humankind. Bring those who have been excluded into the circle of intimate friends. Make the despairing to be filled with hope. Waken them that slumber; make the heedless mindful. Such are the fruits of this earthly life. Such is the station of resplendent glory.

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Thursday, December 06, 2012

On Ruthless Competition: When I harm you, I harm myself

Attempting to maintain the system I know as “me” through ruthless competition with the system I know as “you” is a grave mistake: it could damage the integrity of the embracing whole that frames both your life and mine. I cannot preserve my own life and wholeness by damaging that whole, even if damaging a part of it seems to bring me short-term advantage. When I harm you, or anyone else around me, I harm myself. 
From A DECLARATION OF ONENESS CONSCIOUSNESS Sixteen Points drafted by Ervin Laszlo
Barney on LnkedIn linked to this post on SOUL NEEDS: life-journey momentsOf course, I think about ... football. These guys (below) are not ruthless in their competition. They exemplify what is good about sports as recreation. -gw

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

On the Bitterness of Disappointment: Merged with the sweetness of the present hour

To the jetty

To the jetty

In 1788, while in search of the Columbia River, English Captain John Meares missed the passage over the river bar and named the nearby headland Cape Disappointment for his failure in finding the river. In 1792, American Captain Robert Gray successfully crossed the river bar and named the river "Columbia" after his ship, the Columbia Rediviva. Only a few years later, in 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition arrived at Cape Disappointment.

The Cape Disappointment Lighthouse was constructed in 1856 to warn seamen of the treacherous river bar known by then as "the graveyard of the Pacific." This is the oldest functioning lighthouse on the West Coast.
Interpretation and history at cape disappointment

Bonita, Taraz, Rahmat and I arrived at Cape Disappointment over the Thanksgiving holiday break, but we did not go away disappointed. We were feted with views of the ocean's expanse. -gw

To the jetty

Now that happily I feel myself restored to a position where I can take up with continuity and vigour the threads of my manifold duties, the bitterness of every disappointment felt, time and again, in the course of the past weary months at my feeling of unpreparedness, have been merged in the sweetness of the present hour, when I realise that spiritually and bodily I am better equipped to shoulder the responsibilities of the Cause. 

To the jetty

To the jetty