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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

The Poems of Ruhiyyih Khanum after the Passing of Shoghi Effendi

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In 1995 Ruhiyyih Khanum published poems she had written after the death in 1957 of her husband, Shoghi Effendi, who had been the head of the Baha’i Faith for 36 years.

On the dust jacket of her book, Poems of the Passing, she explains what she wanted to achieve by finally making the verses public.

It is the author’s ardent hope that in sharing them with others they may echo the grief of separation in this world from our loved ones, and the confident hope of reunion with them in an eternal realm of spiritual progress and mercy.

Anybody expecting an easy journey with gentle poems of love and light and describing a calm acceptance of death is in for a big surprise. Amatu’l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum, who passed away 15 years ago, was unflinching in her realistic approach to life, and she applied the same approach to these poems.

In emotionally wrenching and spiritually challenging verses, she uses her sublime literary skills to lay bare an incandescent agony caused by the loss of her beloved.

So deep, so harrowing is the raw pain she describes – at one point writing of the “unspeakable poison of grief” — many people may find it difficult to keep on reading despite the great artistic beauty of the poetry. Tears are likely. Continue reading

“Switch” – A Short Film by Kyle Schmalenberg

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Baha’i Blog is proud to present “Switch”, a short film made by Kyle Schmalenberg.

The film is based on a poem that was written purposefully to cast a negative shadow when it’s read one way, and the opposite feeling when read in reverse succession. The lines and words are the same; the only thing that changes is the direction and inflection of the words that are read. 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

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