Saturday, March 30, 2013

On the Pope's Call for an Outward-Looking Orientation: Parallels the Baha'i stance

Evils within the Church are caused by a self-centeredness and “theological narcissism” that forget to share Christ with people outside of the Church, Pope Francis said in the days before his election. 
“When the Church is self-referential, inadvertently, she believes she has her own light,” he said in a speech to the College of Cardinals before the start of the Conclave. 
When the Church ceases to be “the mysterium lunae,” that is, to depend on Christ for receiving and reflecting his, not its own, light, it then “gives way to that very serious evil, spiritual worldliness, which according to (Jesuit Cardinal Henri-Marie) De Lubac, is the worst evil that can befall the Church,” said then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio. The Church then “lives to give glory only to one another” and not the rest of the world, he added.

The new Catholic Pope advises his cardinals to be outward-looking. The following post on Bahá'í Epistolary explores the outward-looking orientation of Baha'is. It opens with a series of provocative questions.

Are we yet another congregation, buzzing ourselves up to proselytise more keenly, or is there something distinctive about the enterprise of growing the Baha'i community? Is this an inward-looking, bums on seats (we have no pews), my congregation is bigger than yours mindset we are cultivating? Or has this vision of growth anything deeper to offer to a world fast slipping from our fingers? We want, like most religious groups, to grow our community. Does our concept of community change the nature of the enterprise?

The New Paradigm for Bahá'í Community Building ...
Click over to read the post in its entirety. -gw

On Evidence of Our Progress: Obvious at our Feast


How do we "identify receptive neighborhoods and initiate and sustain activities in them, and ... engage individuals with whom we have a relationship and raise those relationships to the level of their involvement alongside us in building community"? Inspiration here:

Evidence of our progress to build community here in Tacoma was obvious at our last Feast. -gw

On Nuclear Danger: None of us can grow old together if we don't watch our step

I'm going to share this with those that I love. To quote the closing lyric of Robert Gillies' lovely song, "What's the point of growing old if you're not there with me." -gw
Bahá'u'lláh wrote:

"Strange and astonishing things exist in the earth but they are hidden from the minds and the understanding of men. These things are capable of changing the whole atmosphere of the earth and their contamination would prove lethal."
Bahá'ís later pointed to this as a statement about the discovery of nuclear energy and the use of nuclear weapons.'%C3%AD_Faith_and_science

The dangers of the possible use of nuclear weapons is back in the news. Have you noticed? Let's be safe out there, world. None of us can grow old together, if we don't watch our step. -gw

Thursday, March 28, 2013

On New Age Music May Be Over the Hill: But a new age is still at hand

To Pismo Beach and back 449
Photo location: Cheap Thrills, San Luis Obispo CA

The public library in Tacoma divides its CD collection into popular, country, jazz, new age, classic, folk, children’s and holiday. That clearly is an old taxonomy. "New age” as a musical genre hasn't been considered new in ages. But what is new about the age we live in? -gw

1. The oneness of mankind 
2. The oneness of religion 
3. Religion must be the cause of unity 
4. How could I investigate reality and truth in my spiritual journey?
5. Revelation is progressive 
6. Harmony between religion and science 
7. What is meditation and what are some of its benefits?
8. What is the relationship between silence and meditation?
9. What is the connection between meditation and our spiritual destiny?
10. What is the fruit of meditation?
11. Can man ever comprehend God?
12. Can we know God’s Essence?
13. Can philosophy enable us to know God?
14. Can true religion and sound science complement each other?
15. Can science ever explore the essence of God?
16. Did life appear as a result of blind forces?
17. Does mankind have a power which is beyond the limitations of nature?
18. Do Baha’is believe in reincarnation?
19. Can I come back to this world after death?
20. Flowers return. Why can’t I?
21. What happens to us after we leave this world?
22. Can a lower plane of existence ever comprehend a higher?
23. What is the connection between soul, mind, and spirit?
24. What is the Baha’i view of free will – predestination – fate?
25. Do Baha’is believe in fate?
26. Who can restore our sanity and how?
27. How can I experience transformation?
28. Veiled in My immemorial being…

On 30 Gigabytes May Not Be Enough Room: Rediscovering music by Baha'is an MP3 file at a time

Dizzy Gillespie, Baha'i
Painting by Walter Palmore

The act of consolidating all the music by Baha'is that I have accumulated onto one SanDisk MP3 player has been a fun experience so far. I have rediscovered tunes like ...

  • The King of Nothing by Seals and Croft
  • Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac by Dizzy Gillespie
  • Prayers put to music by the Niagra Jr youth
  • The Gate by Msanii 
  • The Hunter by Mathew Levine
There are so many good songs out there, that 30 gigabytes of MP3 files isn't enough space. -gw

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

On It's Not the Girls Playing Football With the Boys That's the Issue: It's the football

After almost three decades middle school students in Tacoma are able to play football for their schools. What does this development do for ensuring their safety from injury?

...the chances of getting a concussion while playing high school football are approximately three times higher than the second most dangerous sport, which is girls' soccer.

Playing sports can be dangerous, we should remind ourselves. Seeing girls suited up and playing with the boys at the football jamboree Saturday was not as surprising as the fact that football was being played again at the middle school level in Tacoma with the possibility of concussions extended to the 400 or so kids on the field. Of course, the crowd I've been running with lately -- junior youth group participants who also play recreational football -- seem to play football essentially year around, although the dangers of concussion come presumably during actual games and not during the months of pre-season practices. I care about brains, because of the nature of the professional work I do. Here is the best discussion I've found on the Internet about the brain injuries that football can cause. -gw


Sunday, March 24, 2013

On Consultation: The gift that keeps giving

In 1960 he became a Baha'i and within two months was elected to the Local Spiritual Assembly. There he discovered that those who served on that body used the principles of consultation that Baha'u'llah outlined for his followers to use to solve problems. -gw

Consultation is a distinctive, non-adversarial method of decision-making whose principles were laid out by the founder of the Baha’i Faith, Baha’u’llah. The goal of consultation is to investigate truth and to build consensus among groups of any size and composition. 

Junior youth in consultation

On It's Not Just the Spaces We Share: But the relationships we build

1:17 it's not only the the spaces we share
1:21 but 
1:22 relationships we build that gives us meaning
The youth he works with in his city on the East Coast toss a football around, they study together, and the serve their community. Sounds familiar.


That's what Baha'i-inspired junior youth groups do around here in our city on the West Coast. Small world. -gw


ATC, JYSEP, fireside 042

Saturday, March 09, 2013

On Before Being Old Enough to Fast: Memories and guidance

Colleen reflects on the fasting experience and remembers what it was like living in a Baha'i home before she was old enough to fast

Rick reviews the authoritative guidance on the Baha'i Fast for new Baha'i Tyler. -gw

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On Retirement: Transitioning from one kind of work to another

Every individual, no matter how handicapped and limited he may be, is under the obligation of engaging in some work or profession, for work, especially when performed in the spirit of service, is according to Bahá’u’lláh, a form of worship. It has not only a utilitarian purpose, but has a value in itself, because it draws us nearer to God, and enables to better grasp His purpose for us in this world. It is obvious, therefore, that the inheritance of wealth cannot make anyone immune from daily work. As to the question of retirement from work for individuals who have reached a certain age, this is a matter on which the International House of Justice will have to legislate as there are no provisions in the Aqdas concerning i.

Bahá’u’lláh’s Command Concerning Daily Work

Retirement is usually not the end of work, but a time to take up different work. -gw

O ye loved ones of God! Be ye firm of foot, and fixed of heart, and through the power of the Blessed Beauty’s help, stand ye committed to your purpose. Serve ye the Cause of God. Face ye all nations of the world with the constancy and the endurance of the people of Bahá, that all men may be astounded and ask how this could be, that your hearts are as well-springs of confidence and faith, and as mines so rich in the love of God.

Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha

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On the Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting: A pattern of our ancestors

...recent scientific research, including many animal studies and some human trials, has begun to demonstrate the health benefits of various intermittent patterns of fasting and voluntary abstinence. Because intermittent fasting replicates the feast-or-famine dietary patterns of our ancestors, many researchers believe emptying the human digestive system and allowing it to self-cleanse and purify without the constant presence of food confers lifelong health advantages.

Makes surprising sense. -gw

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On Glimmerings of Hope: Lead us on to love

Who is there, O my Lord, that, when Thou revealest the first glimmerings of the signs of Thy transcendent sovereignty and might, hath the power to claim for himself any existence whatever? Existence itself is as nothing when brought face to face with the mighty and manifold wonders of Thine incomparable Self.

Prayers and Meditations by Bahá’u’lláh

  • I have a backpack full of Glimmerings of Hope.

    As I learned from his Facebook status update, Rahmat came by the house to pick up a box of books that had arrived for the junior youth group he animates.  The title of the book reminded me of an old song (which is really before my time). The lyrics are lovely. -gw

    Shine little glow-worm, glimmer, glimmer
    Shine little glow-worm, glimmer, glimmer
    Lead us lest too far we wander
    Love's sweet voice is callin' yonder
    Shine little glow-worm, glimmer, glimmer
    Hey, there don't get dimmer, dimmer
    Light the path below, above
    And lead us on to love
    Glow Worm

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On the Rhythm of Baha'i Life: Like a beating heart


Just started a Book 1 study circle at Sean and Amanda's. My week -- Monday study circle, Thursday devotions, and Saturday junior youth group.

Glad Raymond Sharp was able to join our Thursday devotions at Matt and Christy's.

The junior youth group at Ainsworth Court animated by Sean continues to attract new participants. -gw

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Thursday, March 07, 2013

On Five Hours in the Lives of Tacoma Baha'is and Their Friends: They party heart-y

Five hours of almost continuous dancing -- there was hardly a song that someone wasn't up dancing to. -gw

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On Vie Ye With Each Other: What profiteth you in this world and the next

Vie ye with each other in the service of God and of His Cause. This is indeed what profiteth you in this world, and in that which is to come. (
Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 83

We may not be able to win every match, but we strive and benefit. -gw

Girl's wrestling, Tacoma WA

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Wednesday, March 06, 2013

On Sports and the Baha'i Faith: Sports as evolutionary

Wrestling not in the 2020 Olympics? Wrestling the history of which goes back to ancient Greece? Humanity has evolved since those days. Sport today honors different values.

The modern Games have de-emphasized this martial model of athletics and instead gravitated toward two kinds of spectacle that, to the Greeks, would not have seemed to be contests at all. Team sports, a phenomenon utterly unknown to the ancient world, have claimed an increasing share of the Games themselves and an ever-greater percentage of their televised avatar. The same is true of competitions like diving, figure-skating, and gymnastics, in which athletes perform solo, in serial displays, before a panel of judges.

But what will sports look like in the future, as humankind continues to evolve -- as the Baha'i Writings assure us it will? The link below constitutes the best discussion of sports from the perspective of the Baha'i Revelation that I've come across. 

Yet every Olympics also seems to rekindle the debate about the importance of sport and athletic competition in relation to other human endeavors. Are the Olympics a laudable venue for the celebration of physical prowess and the unification of countries, or does the fierce competition kindled by the Olympics simply reinforce the competitive mindset that often leads to conflict and contention among nations? How much value should we place on winning, or losing, in such competitions? And what is the role of sport and athletic competition in general in the broader scope of human affairs?

Lots of dedicated wrestlers -- including several Eastside Tacoma junior youth program participants -- came out for the end-of-the-wrestling season combine at Foss High School last Saturday. -gw

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Tuesday, March 05, 2013

On Party Details: Days of Ha, moments of time

Little details at the party
I love the little details that a camera catches -- the expressions,  emotions, moments in time. -gw

On The Facts About Ayyam-i-Ha Just Passed: Wooha!

So, it's over. But for those who don't know what Ayyam-i-Ha is (or was, having missed it for this year), here is a completely factual representation. -gw

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On My Meditations on Our Baha'i Program of Growth: How my life is changed!

The Baha'i community today reflects both an old culture and a new culture. My attitude towards this phenomenon? Baha'is are called on to avoid false dichotomies. So also with our old ways/new ways, it's not "either/or" -- it's "and."

How can we keep the best of how we've "always done things," and still grow? We can't not grow. Conversation in our cluster from May 2012 ...

How my life is changed .. I still love Feast, even though I am not always able to make it to them. AND I love my Thursday night devotional "in the neighborhood" at Matt & Christy's.

What we Baha'is are called upon to engage in....

I look back and I look forward:

I meditate on these observations and ask myself, how can I contribute to strengthening the program of growth in my Baha'i communit?. -gw

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On Up For Persian Dancing: An Ayyam-i-Ha tradition

I'm clapping.

My hands are up.

Young and old are up for Persian dancing. -gw

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On a Challenge to Those Clinging to a Materialistic Paradigm of Reality: The enigma of conciousness


A book recommendation from Pattabi. -gw
I am impelled to write this to you all as I have just now finished reading (devouring) the book ”Proof of Heaven”, an  extraordinary account of one Dr. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon’s real journey into the afterlife – during a seven day coma- trip to a world of greater consciousness.  I could not put this book down- and almost read the 180 pages in nearly one sitting. Though I have read similar works on near death experience of other writers, what is extraordinary in this book is that he gives logical and unequivocal scientific credence to his out of the body experience based on our current knowledge of neurology.  His 13th chapter “The Enigma of Consciousness” is a sterling piece, at once a direct and challenge to current-day men of science still clinging to materialistic paradigm of reality. He himself was one before this experience.  I am sure that you will also be thrilled to read this as I was.

"Science," System of a Down

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