Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Bahá’í Faith

“Changing the World, One Wall at a Time”


Education Is #NotACrime There is an Endeavor that offers education to folks in Iran who are not permitted to attend college—they are Bahá’ís and it is their religion that the government hates, their religion which draws massive persecution to some of the most peaceful folks on our planet…

The Endeavor is Education is #NotACrime and it promotes the Bahá’í Institute for Higher Education, which offers Internet courses and college credit to folks who are kept out of their country’s schools…

#NotACrime has spawned a worldwide effort facilitating artists in their creation of murals expressing the importance of higher education.

I’m going to add a trailer for a movie that was produced to spread awareness of this Endeavor; and, if you wonder why I’m sharing this in a blog about Reading, Writing, and Publishing, all I can say is, those three activities of life are only possible with Education…

The full movie is available for Internet viewing today only (Sept. 10th); and, I urge everyone reading these words to go watch it —> Changing the World, One Wall at a Time (if the movie suddenly pauses, just click the play button quickly off and back on…)

And, here is the Trailer:


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Stories That Change Lives


Back in 2014, I wrote a post called, Can Stories Change Society?

Here’s an excerpt:

Most of us have read a story that’s changed us, in some way.

Often, these are news stories…

Sometimes, stories told by friends…

Even fictional stories have the power to induce lasting change in our lives…

In that post, I introduce you to an organization called Center for Story-Based Strategy.

Here’s something they say about themselves:

The Center for Story-based Strategy (CSS) is a national movement-building organization dedicated to harnessing the power of narrative for social change.  We offer social justice networks, alliances, and organizations the analysis, training, and strategic support to change the story on the issues that matter most.”

I feel it’s also important to consider Literary Nonfiction as “storytelling” that can change lives.

There’s also a Space on Facebook called Ode that’s “…a storytelling series where community members tell true stories on stage to promote positive impact through empathy.”

They also have a WebSpace that’s part of Siouxland Public Media Radio.

That Siouxland link has many folks’ Odes…

And, in that Space is a story that resonates profoundly with my personal spiritual path…

The man telling the story brings up a profound concept in just the title of his Ode: Part of a religious minority, I’m not popular enough to be different…

One particular way I feel resonance with him is that being a member of the same Faith he was raised in (yet only discovering it in my early 40s) has given me plenty of reason to feel deeply different from the current “culture” that surrounds me—gives me plenty of material for the stories I write :-)

That last link to Ode will let you read his life-changing story; and, this video is him telling the very same story. The theme that day was “Stigmas: An ode to the power of opening up.”


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Do I Celebrate Christmas?


I may completely lose a few of my readers today……… 

In fact, many folks who trusted me to post reasonable things might think I’m bonkers.

However

Judging from most of the mainstream media, Christmas is just the modern incarnation of some ancient ritual; or, it’s the season of festivity, happiness, and gift-giving; or, it’s a time to be with family and friends to warm-up before the cold sets in, in earnest

Of course, folks in the Southern Hemisphere are in their Summer

And, my Best Friend, in Australia, celebrated Christmas yesterday :-)

Sure, a few people know what Christmas really stands for

Actually, most people probably know but let the media steer them away from the truth.

I was raised in a Christian family—Mom and Dad were both ministers.

When I left home, I became quite non-religious

In my early forties, I discovered the Bahá’í Faith.

It taught me things about Jesus the Christ that most Christians never suspect.

It taught me that, if I celebrate the birth of Christ, I should also celebrate the birth of Abraham, Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Muhammad, and all the other Manifestations.

Of course, recorded history shows the tragedy of the “believers” of most Faiths treating those of a different Faith with disdain and contempt, or covering that ill-will with a mock good-will, or just harming or killing them

My Faith teaches me that all the Manifestations had the Truth and brought it to Humanity at different stages in its evolution.

Now, I’ll share the etymology of “Celebrate”:

“…from Latin celebratus ‘much-frequented; kept solemn; famous’, past participle of celebrare ‘assemble to honor’, also ‘to publish; sing praises of; practice often’, originally ‘to frequent in great numbers’, from celeber ‘frequented, populous, crowded’; with transferred senses of ‘well-attended; famous; often-repeated’.”

So, if Christmas is the birth of Jesus, I celebrate it—I celebrate the birth of every Manifestation, even the Ones I know nothing of

I celebrate the concept that there is a Manual for Living, taught by all the Manifestations—embracing Virtues like Honesty, Love, Justice, Courtesy, Joyfulness, Nobility, Truthfulness, and Gratitude.

Sure, to admit that one is religious can bring scorn, ridicule, and even death.

But, to ignore what religion really teaches (not what any given believer teaches) is, at least, as dangerous as ignoring the laws of science

That last sentence could make some think I’m rather odd, that I base my life on principles that come from people who say they have a message direct from God—yet, the Manifestations aren’t just “people”; their Lives show that and their Words support it.

That’s not easy to believe and, from my experience, interpreting any Scripture is about as easy as figuring out what the great poets write—it can be done, it usually leads to more than one interpretation, it depends on good sense and an open heart

I’ve spent 26 years as a Bahá’í and I’m still taking baby-steps; but, those steps are much better for me than the sleazy crawl and the pompous strut I used to do.

Let me share a quote from the Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, Bahá’u’lláh.

It’s about Jesus but could apply to all the Manifestations:

“We testify that when He came into the world, He shed the splendor of His glory upon all created things. Through Him the leper recovered from the leprosy of perversity and ignorance. Through Him, the unchaste and wayward were healed. Through His power, born of Almighty God, the eyes of the blind were opened, and the soul of the sinner sanctified… We bear witness that through the power of the Word of God every leper was cleansed, every sickness was healed, every human infirmity was banished. He it is Who purified the world. Blessed is the man who, with a face beaming with light, hath turned towards Him.”

Dear reader, if you’ve gotten this far in the post, let me repeat the caution that a true understanding of religion does not come from what the believers say.

True understanding comes from an Independent Investigation of Truth
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Controversy ~ A Recent Attempt To Quell It . . .


In the recent post, The Writer & Controversy . . ., I broached the subject of Global Peace; mostly because my novel, Notes from An Alien, is about a civilization growing from greed and war to lasting peace…

The comments were a mixture of hopes for peace and not a lot of certitude that it can happen.

Even in my book, one of the characters (a woman from another star-system) says:

“I can’t say I have high hopes for your World’s progress toward Peace. There are too many variables and, bottom-line, it depends on a sufficient number of you making the heart-felt decision to work for peace, in every interaction of every day of your lives.”

I read a news release today that surprised me. A group of representatives from a diverse set of religious persuasions has sent a message to the G8 and G20:

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BORDEAUX, France, 31 May 2011 (BWNS) – A call for the G8 bloc of nations to take bold action on the interconnected crises faced by humanity.

‘[Representative of the Baha’i, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Shinto and Sikh faiths], as well as members of interfaith organisations, [gathered] at the Religious Summit in Bordeaux to deliberate on matters related to the agendas of the G8 Deauville Summit and the G20 Cannes Summit, scheduled for 3-4 November 2011.

“Summit Moderator His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel Adamakis, Co-President of the Council of Churches of France, told participants that they were face-to-face not just as religious leaders but as representatives of humanity, speaking with one voice to the leaders of the G8 and G20 countries.

“That voice was heard in a unanimously agreed statement drafted at the meeting and later presented to the Secretary General of the G8.

“In addition to recommendations on five major themes–reforming global governance, the macro-economic situation, climate change, development, and investing in peace–the statement called for representatives from the African continent and the Middle East to be included in the G8 and the G20 meetings.

“‘Our diverse backgrounds and experience enriched our consultation’, the statement said.

“‘The trauma of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster described by our Japanese colleagues, the experience and aspirations of our friends from countries in the Middle East and the deep concern of our African colleagues at the continued marginalization of their voice underlined the urgency of the issues under consideration.’

“The statement concluded by urging the G8 and G20 ‘to continue to expand and strengthen the needed global response to global challenges’.”

“‘We–leaders of diverse religious communities throughout the world–re-commit ourselves to working together across religious lines for the common good and with governments and other partners of good will. We remain convinced–each in accordance with the teachings of their tradition–that justice, compassion and reconciliation are essential for genuine peace’, the statement said.

“‘The participants in this Summit demonstrated a sincere desire to find a way to translate the spiritual principles that inform their worldview into concrete and practical recommendations that would assist G8 leaders to address the challenges facing humanity’, said Baha’i representative Susanne Tamas from Canada.

“‘The genuine respect and keen interest with which people listened to one another and sought to deepen their understanding of complex issues was very impressive’, said Ms. Tamas.

“Fellow Baha’i delegate Barney Leith, from the United Kingdom, agreed.

“‘The spirit of unity that infused the gathering was deeply moving’, he said.

“‘There was a strong sense in which all those at the Summit understood themselves to be part of a single human family and to be utterly committed to reminding leaders of powerful nations of their moral commitment to reducing human suffering.’

“The G8 Religious Leaders Summit was held in Bordeaux on the 23-24 May. It was the seventh in a series of interfaith gatherings aimed at identifying areas of moral consensus among religions. Previous Summits were held prior to each G8 Summit in the United Kingdom (2005), Russia (2006), Germany (2007), Japan (2008), Italy (2009) and Canada (2010).”

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To me, this is a rather stunning story. I’m not sure the G8 or G20 leaders will respond appropriately but, if a variegated group of religious leaders can find points of unification, there may be more hope than the character in my book thinks

What are your thoughts and feelings?
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