6 Reasons to Steer Clear of Partisan Politics

In the United States, the conclusion of the summer Olympics also means we’re fast approaching another presidential election. In fact, the way various elections are staggered, we’re never more than a few months away from an election of some kind. Perhaps in your country, you too are blessed to have the freedom to elect your governmental leaders. It’s a precious and hard-won human right that the whole world is destined to exercise.

Democracy is a core value of Baha’i life. The way in which we govern our own affairs is deeply democratic. We elect our leaders from the bottom of the administrative order to the very top. But we do it all without campaigning. We don’t put our own names or those of others up for election, and likewise we don’t engage in negative self-campaigning to remove ourselves from consideration. Baha’is simply and prayerfully vote for a slate of people they believe will best serve the community, and, in the case of Spiritual Assemblies, the nine top vote-getters are elected. Continue reading

10 Documentaries about World Religions

As a Baha’i, it’s important to know about other religions – actually it doesn’t really matter if you’re a Baha’i or not, the fact is that we live in a religiously diverse world and the more we know and learn about each other and our belief systems, the better we can hopefully get along.

I really love watching documentaries, and there are some great documentaries out there which focus on some of the various world religions and/or certain aspects of them. I thought I’d share a list of 10 interesting and informative documentaries I’ve seen about some of these world religions, and I know there are a lot of other great documentaries about religion out there, but I thought these 10 would be a good place to start:

1) The Buddha: The Story of Siddhartha

Narrated by Hollywood heartthrob Richard Gere, a long time practicing Buddhist himself, The Buddha: The Story of Siddhartha tells the story of the life and spiritual journey of the Buddha (the founder of Buddhism), from his childhood to his final days. .

DVD blurb: Two and a half millennia ago, a new religion was born in northern India, generated from the ideas of a single man, the Buddha, a mysterious Indian sage who famously gained enlightenment while he sat under a large, shapely fig tree. The Buddha never claimed to be God or his emissary on earth. He said only that he was a human being who, in a world of unavoidable pain and suffering, had found a kind of serenity that others could find, too. This documentary by award-winning filmmaker David Grubin tells the story of his life, a journey especially relevant in our own bewildering times of violent change and spiritual confusion.

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Creation Is Now

Photo courtesy: zAmb0ni via Flickr

There is perhaps nothing more fundamental to faith in God than our ideas, traditions, and assumptions about creation. After all, “Creator” is our most descriptive synonym for God.

For most of its visible history, much of humanity has subscribed to a literal belief in creation stories. These stories were critical stepping stones that infused cultures around the world with ideas that would guide their development. These ideas included the notion there was a divine entity who engineered the creation of the natural world and who bestowed on humanity a special gift: free will, knowledge of good and evil. This gift carried with it unique privileges — indeed dominion — but also grave responsibilities. Continue reading

What’s New at Baha’i Blog’s Directory and Calendar

Hi Baha’i Bog readers! My name is Roya and I just wanted to say a quick hello and let you know that I’m the new team member who’s looking after the Baha’i Blog Directory and Calender.

The Baha’i Blog Directory is where you can find a whole bunch of Baha’i resources! There’s everything from websites to music, iPhone Apps to apparel, books to Baha’i inspired organizations.  We’re always looking for more great Baha’i resources to share with our audience, so if you know of any we don’t yet have, please let us know!

The Baha’i Blog Calendar is a resource for finding national and international events, conferences, summer schools and other Baha’i activities around the world. If you have a medium to large event that you think would fit in here, then please let us know.

I’ve been adding a lot of new items to the Directory and the Calendar lately, so be sure to check in regularly as there are a lot of great things happening and cool stuff being added every day!

Here are just a few of the recent additions for you to check out:

The Baha’i Blog Directory

ALBUMS: Tons of new albums like Smith & Dragoman’s The Mystery; Nabil & Karim’s Vol. 2; Luke Slott’s The Light of Unity.

CHILDREN’S CLASS RESOURCES: A few new additions to this section, all inspiring!

JEWELLERY: Some great new places to find beautiful Baha’i Jewellery.

The Baha’i Blog Calendar

OCT 4  – European Baha’i Business Forum: Annual Conference 2012

OCT 13 – The Baha’i Studies Cloud Conference Series

DEC 23 – The 2012 Rabbani Trust Conference Orlando

We hope you find the Baha’i Blog Calendar and Directory sections useful, and be sure to take some time to look through them.

If you have any suggestions or contributions I would love to hear from you!

-Roya (roya@bahaiblog.net)

What is Obligatory Prayer and Why is it Important?

Photo: Victor Bezrukov via Flickr

Prayer, according to the Baha’i Faith, is central to one’s spiritual existence. It is the means by which creation communicates with the Creator.There are numerous prayers revealed by Baha’u’llah, the Bab and ‘Abdu’l- Baha, and each of these prayer express our innermost needs and offer us guidance, in a way that our own words can’t.

In addition to the many revealed prayers, there are also the daily obligatory prayers – revealed by Baha’u’llah – which are to be recited individually and privately, every day. Individuals can choose from one of three prayers – the short obligatory prayer to be said between noon and sunset, the medium obligatory prayer to be recited three times a day, or the long obligatory prayer to be recited anytime during the course of the day.

Bahá’u’lláh states that “obligatory prayer and fasting occupy an exalted station in the sight of God”. Abdu’l-Bahá affirms that such prayers are “conducive to humility and submissiveness, to setting one’s face towards God and expressing devotion to Him”, and that through these prayers “man holdeth communion with God, seeketh to draw near unto Him, converseth with the true Beloved of his heart, and attaineth spiritual stations”.

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Rejecting Slavery in All Its Forms

In the late 1990s, the United Nations began recognizing August 23 as International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and of Its Abolition. On that date in 1791, slaves on the island of Santo Domingo (modern Haiti and the Dominican Republic) began an uprising that would be critical in the eventual abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.

There are few concepts more anathema to the Baha’i Faith than slavery. It offends a long list of Baha’i sensibilities as well as the Faith’s express tenets – from the equality of the races, to the importance of the family unit, to the equality of the sexes, and the general advancement of human rights. Continue reading

Soulboy: An Interview with Khalil Fong

Which Baha’i musician has millions of fans and concerts that pack out stadiums? Khalil Fong – that’s who! “Who?” you ask? Well, to many of the English speaking world, the name Khalil Fong may not ring a bell, but to the Mandarin speaking world in China, Singapore and Taiwan, Hong Kong based pop-star Khalil Fong has been playing to packed-out stadiums and he continues to pump out the hits!

Besides having over six million followers on Weibo (the Chinese Twitter), six albums under his belt, and approximately 180 music awards, Khalil has also been praised by the media for his upright character and for being such a positive role model for young people.

I was first introduced to Khalil Fong’s music several years ago when a close friend of mine had given me Khalil Fong’s first album Soulboy, and even though I don’t speak Mandarin, as soon as I pressed “Play”, I was humming and snapping my fingers to the beat.

When I was in Hong Kong a short time ago, there were posters of Khalil everywhere – and I mean EVERYWHERE! I walked into a HMV music store and there was an entire display at the entrance dedicated to his latest album titled “15”, and when I took the CD over to the counter, the guy at the register nodded approvingly of my choice and said “Good album, good album!”.

I had the pleasure of meeting and hanging out with Khalil Fong, and I was really impressed by his humility and the dedication and professionalism with which he approached his musical career. It was also very obvious that being a pop-star was exhausting work, with a hectic schedule and the pressures of always being in the spotlight, so I was really pleased that he was able to squeeze in an interview for Baha’i Blog. Continue reading

First Video Showing Construction of New Baha’i Temple in Chile

For the first time since the Universal House of Justice announced the project in 2001, video of the construction of the Baha’i House of Worship in Santiago, Chile has been released by the Temple project team!

The video briefly explains the unique and award winning design of this House of Worship and shows various images and video of the work currently being done.

To find out more about the Baha’i House of Worship in Chile, you can go to the Temple’s official website.

You can also learn more about Baha’i Houses of Worship in general here, or check out some of our other Baha’i Blog posts relating to Baha’i Houses of Worship below:

1) 21 Stunning Photos of Baha’i Houses of Worship

2) Baha’i Trivia: Houses of Worship

3) What Kind of Temple is This?

apresnovembre: An Interview with Shahrzad Maydani

Image by Shahrzad Maydani (apresnovembre)

apresnovembre is a blog featuring the fascinating work of Shahrzad Maydani, a Baha’i artist from Toronto. The work on her blog features some of the truly beautiful art that she’s created in response to some of the major tests that have come her way in recent years.

Lemons, which feature quite prominently in her work, as you’ll no doubt notice, are used as a metaphor for life’s tests and difficulties – a clever play on the popular expression “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”.

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Sports and the Baha’i Faith

Simpson,Ferguson McKenzie,Gevaert,Hurtis-Houari

Photo Courtesy: André Zehetbauer via Flickr

Every four years, the world witnesses some of the most incredible feats of speed, strength, and physical skill in the form of the summer Olympics. The hopes and dreams of nations often rest on the shoulders of the most physically skilled youth and young adults that countries have to offer. At times these hopes are dashed in the wake of defeat; at other times previously unknown individuals emerge victorious and are transformed into symbols of national pride. But regardless of the specific outcomes, it seems that every Olympics provides the world with dozens of captivating and inspiring narratives about perseverance, determination, and overcoming the odds.

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? Continue reading