Category Archives Opinion

Opinions, thoughts and ideas

The Spiritual Appeal of Star Wars

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There is surely something beyond fascinating characters and an exciting if familiar story that has been attracting people by their millions to see the new Star Wars movie.

My feeling is that a big part of the appeal is “the force”, the ongoing theme in the Star Wars series that gives the latest film its name: The Force Awakens.

In the Star Wars movies, the force seems to me to be roughly equivalent to the creative energy that pervades the universe, but there is also a dark side to it.

What might that mean in Baha’i terms? We are fine with the idea of a creative force and are familiar with the concept that “good has a positive existence; evil is merely its absence”. We could view the “dark side” of the force as the absence of the creative energy, a black hole of evil.

So, apart from the other factors mentioned, why do millions of people get attracted to a movie that has “the force” as an ongoing theme in the story?

Hard-wired into us all is a desire to transcend the mundane, the temporary physical realties of our lives. In my view, that desire is intended to motivate us to seek and ever approach the ultimate, everlasting reality, God. Continue reading

Am I Racist? A Personal Reflection

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Have you ever wondered if you’re racist? Having grown up in a Baha’i family, I was raised with Baha’u’llah’s words that the human family is like the fruits of one tree, the leaves of one branch, and the waves of one sea. Like many others, my family moved from country to country in order to assist with the needs of the Faith and I grew up with these words of Abdu’l-Baha ringing so true:

The diversity in the human family should be the cause of love and harmony, as it is in music where many different notes blend together in the making of a perfect chord. […] Think of [people of different races] as different coloured roses growing in the beautiful garden of humanity, and rejoice to be among them.

Racism with a capital “R” was not something that I really experienced in my daily life; it wasn’t a struggle that I owned or one that affected my family. Recently, however, I have noticed that more subtle forms of prejudice and racism are becoming mainstream topics of conversation. Concepts such as white privilege, cultural appropriation, the racist roots of some common English words and phrases, Islamophobia, and xenophobia are really hot topics. Continue reading

I Love the Baha’i Faith, I Just Don’t Like Statistics

(Photo: Baha'i World Centre)

(Photo: Baha'i World Centre)

There has always been a special relationship between the Faith and numbers. Nine pointed star. Ninety-five Allah’u’Abhas. Nineteen Letters of the Living and subsequently nineteen terraces.

Despite this, I’ve noticed that many of us still seem to internally resist when it comes to using numbers to advance the Cause. Whether it’s setting numerical teaching goals in a cluster, being remunerated for full-time service, or calculating how many home visits were made in a cycle – putting a number next to a spiritual undertaking can feel counter-intuitive for many, or even wrong. But is it? Continue reading

Religion: A Cause of Prejudice?

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For many people, the heading of this article will seem absurd. “Religion: A cause of prejudice?” well of course it’s a cause of prejudice, they will state, why bother with a question mark. You only have to pick up the paper, or read any history book to see the horrific injustices caused in the name of religion.

But does any label, including “Baha’i”, foster religious prejudice? Continue reading

How the song “Imagine” by John Lennon Compares to Baha’i Beliefs

Album cover for John Lennon's 'Imagine', released 9 September, 1971. John Lennon was born 9 October, 1940 and was murdered on 8 December, 1980.

Album cover for John Lennon's 'Imagine', released 9 September, 1971. John Lennon was born 9 October, 1940 and was murdered on 8 December, 1980.

When it comes to uplifting songs, few can match the popularity of Imagine by former Beatle, the late John Lennon (1940-1980).

It was the singer-songwriter’s best-selling single, and it is included in a list of the 100 most-performed songs of the 20th century.

I know many Baha’is who like to sing this song, although they may sometimes wonder about a few of the lyrics, so I thought that on this 35th anniversary of John Lennon’s passing on 8 December 1980 it would be interesting to have a look at Imagine to see how closely it agrees with our cherished Baha’i beliefs.

Continue reading

7 Ways We Can Practice Being Grateful

(Photo: Baha'i World Centre)

(Photo: Baha'i World Centre)

Abdu’l-Baha suggests we should thank God a hundred-thousand times for being enabled to serve His Cause:

In short, thou shouldst thank God a hundred-thousand times for having been confirmed and strengthened in obtaining such a great gift [servitude]! Know thou the value thereof and consider that its price is highly appraised.

But what’s the best way to do it?

Here’s a list of seven things I think we can do to practice being grateful: Continue reading

The Tide of Conflict and Disorder – How Can We Help?

Photo:  Freedom House via Flickr

Photo: Freedom House via Flickr

The recent news and accompanying images of those who drowned while attempting to flee war-torn Syria has brought the entire world to tears. No matter what their age, background, or religious affiliation, people have been deeply affected by the tragedy and almost everyone has been left feeling helpless and searching for a means to ‘fix’ the current global refugee crisis.

In light of this news, I was particularly moved by the following excerpt taken from The Promise of World Peace by the Universal House of Justice: Continue reading

The Almost Hip Religion – Western Ideals Meet Baha’i Teachings

Children in a Haitian slum showing off their Western-taught ‘gangsta’ moves. (Photo courtesy of the author.)

Children in a Haitian slum showing off their Western-taught ‘gangsta’ moves. (Photo courtesy of the author.)

I’ve been a Baha’i all my life and yet it never ceases to amaze me how intuitive the Baha’i Faith seems. Most Baha’i ideals quite simply feel true. They resonate and appeal to what some call “our modern sensibilities”.

And yet for many of us there remains that fraction of the totality of Baha’i ideas which is difficult, even daunting, to truly accept in one’s heart of hearts.

Many teachings stand in stark contrast to the majority view in any given culture. Some teachings challenge what is hip and trendy. Some defy what is passed down as a proud tradition. Almost all Baha’i teachings defy strong selfish impulse or entrenched habit. A new Baha’i or someone looking into the Baha’i Faith, may become so enamoured by the beautiful and instantly palatable core teachings that they unwittingly ignore a host of other fundamental principles which may later come as an unpleasant surprise — usually in the inconvenient personal challenge they present. Time should be given, and loving sympathy and utmost patience shown for every individual to process the most personally challenging Baha’i ideas whatever they may be. Continue reading

Avoiding Anger as you Would a Lion

Avoiding Anger as you would a Lion

Often when we’ve been hurt, our first response is to get angry; to want to punish someone as much as we feel we’ve been hurt, but Baha’u’llah teaches:

Anger doth burn the liver: avoid [it] as you would a lion.

I used to think this meant I shouldn’t feel anger at all, but I don’t think that’s what it means. If we just ignore the lion (our anger), it will attack! If I’m in a jungle and I see a lion, I would be foolish to deny its existence. No – first I say: “There’s a lion, what should I do now?”

The idea of comparing anger to a lion is a really good analogy and one can draw a lot of parallels, so I Googled “How to Prevent a Lion Attack” and this is what I found: Continue reading