Archives for category: Baha'i

A Life Apart – L. Y. Marlow 9780307719393

A Life Apart

L. Y. Mar

This is a historical novel dealing with race, World War II, specifically Pearl Harbor, relationships of the black and white kind, and a love story. The title A Life Apart implies to the reader more than one meaning. The author is indeed a , and as she takes us deeper and deeper into the novel, complexities of other families, life of African-Americans, how they differ, and a coming to love. It’s gentle, and it’s a story about love, about skin color privilege and hatred, and human beings caught on the corners or jagged edges of history’s transitions. I’m from Boston, and went to secretarial school in Roxbury. I was born a little before World War II, and grew up in the suburbs of Boston. I was oblivious to racial prejudice until I came to California in 1992, discovered the Baha’i Faith and the concept of the oneness of humankind.This book is important. There are no strident notes or harsh retaliations to the way whites treated our fellow African-Americans (grievously, beyond measure), and the author writes about these times, which are exceedingly important. If we are to know and love each other, and realize skin color is an illusion, we have to know of our insides, our hurts, our triumphs, frailties and joys. A Life Apart is a compelling story, and it works on many levels. I definitely recommend it. I read this book because I signed up for Blogging for Books, a worthy adventure in itself. Otherwise I might have missed A Life Apart. My life is enriched because of reading this. I think readers will hear more from L. Y. Marlow. She is also author of Color Me Butterfly, which I intend to track down as soon as I finish this review. Kudos to this writer! Thanks again Blogging for Books!

Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from www.public-domain-image.com

In view of the recent sufferings and the accompanying feelings of oneness I would like to offer the quote below from the Baha’i Writings, revealed by Baha’u’llah (whose name means the Glory of God) with hopes it will lighten hearts that are heavy. esther

CXXX: Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in…

Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility.

eloquent, nonpartisan, well-considered response to corruption!

Mel's Madness

The headlines overwhelm me. The financial markets. The NATO rioting. Our own politicians’ posturing about the debt “crisis.” I have grown weary of the political forums on Facebook and elsewhere. The caricatures of Obama as monkey. The tar baby references. The Right tells gays they are abominations.  The left talks loudly about dildos in response. The Right blames Obama. The Left blames eight years of George W. Bush. For everything. Believe it or not Ayn Rand is STILL being talked about though she never had anything to say. Every year teens “discover” her and use her as an excuse to not clean their rooms or take the trash out or babysit their little brothers and sisters.

A pop singer’s nipple was exposed during Good Morning America. Why do I care? We spend $13 billion on porn every year in the United States and girls are sold into sexual slavery

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from You Carry the Heavy Stuff, Lulu.com/Amazon, the author’s garage….. ISBN 978-0-557-20933-0-essays, poetry, observations from a twin’s dying to cubicle despair in a corporate world with voices of buoyant pathos, mystical reverence – you catch my drift

Why do I write?  Like now, when the dishes sit orphaned in the kitchen sink because I, the washer, am typing, sharing, breathing, living, putting off the inevitable, because once a long time ago, I was so hurt, I couldn’t breathe.  I carried that hurt with me forever, until I found out that sensitivity is the price and the prize for being able to write, for being able to read people, to Braille the unsaid.  I write to a lady in prison, who said “I liked a phrase you wrote, “The language of God is a tear running down someone’s cheek.”

I write because I read, insatiably, gobbling, inhaling, filling myself with the human condition; splat on the floor some days, like a big old squishy bug, flattened, dead, its body swept up by old straws on a broom; and then I write to show the magic of St. Theresa’s Snow Queen Altar when I was young, and how everything looked like a wedding cake, and I write to tell how when I was younger, and so needy I could have impaled myself on a stake wide and big, sort of like a meta-letter holder, except the stake would run through my insatiably needy heart, and a note on my back would read “loves too much,” and that was before the book Women Who Love Too Much.

I write because I have gone beyond Medieval Posts puncturing my despair and loneliness and have decided Men Who Love too Much is here too.  Maybe we all love too much, and I write because maybe none of us love too much, for we are told by images in advertising, that we should be thin, jaded in the eyes, like the look of models for Vogue or whatever, who probably could shoot up heroin on their lunch hours, and because despair is trendy and nihilism and materialism and not giving a damn might be the language of the hour.  But then there is the lonely, little, big, young, old, trembling, brassy, you-catch-my-drift-writer who writes because he or she must, and words have a visceral effect upon her, him, the dog, the surrounding room.  I write of hopes for the world, and a good ham sandwich or description thereof on a sour dough roll, with slabs of mayo, and a bed of lettuce, and curled pink ham,  ready to go into someone’s mouth which is opened to the size of half a ladder, is  a good thing, a good description.

What this nation needs is a good ham sandwich and a Pepsi without the aspartame and some down to honest to goodness honesty that is the natural condition to communicate, to be real, to be afraid of bugs in knotty pine walls when the walls come alive at night; to watch an elderly blind woman, clutch the corners of her walker, take a breath and remain a sweet sweet spirit, knowing that her condition, her tests are the divinely calibrated kind, even though trucks have run over her emotionally, and I write to tell of the anonymous amongst us, the bravery, the small acts of courage, kindness in this nation where the world is narcissistically checking its derriere in the mirror, and no one or precious few are listening to the “midnight sighing of the poor,” and where we must have immense courage and speak up; talk, yeah, walk the talk, be it; speak up; tell future generations who we were, wanted to be, became anyhow and our hopes for the future; because someday we will all be sensitive, spiritually inclined, aware of our oneness,  and otherness will go on a back shelf like Twinkies, no longer approved of by the American Heart Association, and writing will be celebrated by hoots and hollers and a piping or two from a medieval horn or Siberian throat, and the arts will have a way of grabbing our soul’s innards and carrying us through the day.  These are some of the reasons I write, but there are others, but today is Wednesday and those are my Wednesday’s writing reasons.

A harmonica

We sit inside a lodge near Lake Baikal in Siberia. It is 1990 and all the young people are going off onto a boat, where they will come back and say with a crooked grin, “We had to eat the raw fish lunch.”

Leslie, myself and a few others have stayed behind, feeling a bit ragged in a large hunting lodge, alone, empty time, tired.   I have an enormous sore throat.  I feel hot red fur going from the back of my throat down to the back of my ankles.  Well, yes I do exaggerate.  But this is coupled with the fact we are in the middle of nowhere, in the tundra maybe that’s what it’s called.”  I will later incur a toe plague which will itch interminably as we wait at the Ulan Ude Airport, and I will be hustled away to some hallway in an inner corridor and a Russian lady with white hat and lab coat will apply green stuff on my entire foot liberally.  This green stuff will remain stuck on my whole foot for the length of the full 63 days on tour with a musical group in Siberia,Ukraine, i.e.,Kiev, L’Vov.  I was like an aging rock star, no voice, green feet, stuck in the back of the chorus.

In L’Vov, we will hear rumors of a revolution which will turn out to be two arguing forces yelling at one another in a downtown park, and where we have found a coffee place and gorgeous pastries, but that’s another story.

Leslie walks into my room, a large woman, with a very small harmonica.  She sits on my camp-type bed and plays,  Notes, small, steady and true fall into my heart.

A knock at our door.

We open it, and a doctor whom we met the previous week, on instinct stopped by to visit.  He gives me stuff for my throat, and I am agog by the fact that we are so isolated, in a strange city, trees, roads, fish and the vastness of Lake Baikal, and my very unspoken needs are met.  It’s like that.

Leslie plays and plays, and I settle into my bed, comforted.  She then says, ‘I had a dream last night.  We were all knots in a fisherman’s net.  When my knot went down because of something I did that was negative or plocha, Russian word for not so hot, bad, I pulled the whole net down a little.  Then she said, pausing to pipe out My Old Kentucky Home’s first few bars, “When my knot when up, I also brought up all the knots with me.  We are all knots in a fisherman’s net.”

Sore throat and all, those simple words, framed in amber notes of harmonic beauty, stayed in the inner lining of my soul.  And that’s the news from Lake Baikal this week, where the fish are full-bodied , the lake is wide and pure, and all the people in the lodge go home deepened and filled with the wonders of humanity.

Okay Reader, I’m going to jump right in.  http://hereismars.wordpress.com/  Mars recommended me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  \

I thanked her and waited in silence for an email to come over the horizon saying, “You’ve won our Versatile Blogger Award.”  It doesn’t work that way.

My them for the April Challenge, MNINB, “It doesn’t work that way.”

So today, I am going to try to do several things at once.  I am a superb multitasker, but whiz around so, I fall off the planet on a daily basis.  My call to action comes at the end.  First the award.

pathway to knowledge, wonder and humility

Thank you Mars, dear tender-aged Mars whose blithe spirit shines through and captures the poetic tendrils of my heart.   http://hereismars.wordpress.com/ (repeated it).  Select 15 bloggers I’ve recently discovered or have been following regularly.  I nominate the blogs below for the versatile blogger award. (Advice:  Google it, and following the instructions.)

http://swpulley.wordpress.com, long time friend, writer, lived in Bolivia and Chile 30 years, early member and continuing member of CHPercolatorCoffeeHouseFor Writers, and just one who you can roll around a floor laughing.

http://bahaithought.blogspot.com/

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2011/02/04/rainn-wilson-soulpancake/, I adore Soul Pancake, and use it in my writing classes at times.  I also gave the book Soul Pancake to my granddaughter.

http://www.bendsintheroad.com/  I have connected with blogger and will do online interview!

http://blackwatertown.wordpress.com      Northern Ireland, author and enchanting commentator; have been following him since he found me – how I don’t know.  I think I had 7 followers then.

http://elenagorokhova.com/  Author of Mountain of Crumbs, on Goodreads, Russian heritage. I lived in Ukraine and Belarus, spent some time in Moscow and Siberia, follow her blog on Goodreads.

http://creativityontheloose.com/   new; intriguing; she was in a class of mine

http://thekitchensgarden.wordpress.com/   a  new, refreshing blog about farm life, and well written.  Sagas, small s really about lambs being born, lamb bloat, the birds; all have names, and the blogger’s pieces undo the knot in the back of my neck from my social media strain.

http://kofegeek.wordpress.com/   Kofegeek is a silly geometer, a lover of coffee and fresh carrot

http://catewrites.wordpress.com/feed/   An exquisite young writer, working on her first novel – we meet once a week and share our writing through prompts!

http://mrslittlejeans.blogspot.com/2012/04/our-cat-boys-are-tree-huggers.html

friend, who is a scientist, a Baha’i and who writes enchanting, whimsical pieces.

http://livingbackstreet.blogspot.com, a very talented artists.  She had a stroke and since then she’s been producing the paintings you will see on her website.

http://holessence.wordpress.com/ one of the first bloggers to reach out at beginning of our MNINB April challenge, generous in spirit and knowledge

http://bridgetasher.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default

terrifically informative re writing

http://debbieohi.com/home/atom.xml  I love her art

Okay this is for the lovely Mars – 7 things about myself

1.  I am 73, but have the writing voice of a 35 year old;p spunky, funny, deep, spiritual, whatever.

2.  I am a twin; fraternal, she died a few years ago.

3.  I am a member of the Baha’i Faith – since 1966 – was Catholic from Boston

4.  I am a pug dog devotee

5.  I have lived in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, Minsk, Belarus, spent time at Lake Baikal in Siberia, looked across borders to Mongolia, stared at the biggest fattest head of Lenin in Ulan Ude, Siberia, and crawled across railroad tracks and clung to barely the inside of a train in Eastern Ukraine, and last I road on a bus with our interpreter who thought beings from Mars would soon pop up, and where the bus driver stopped the bus, and said about the quacking goose in our midst, “Off with his head,” but of course, the goose lived, and we did too.

6.  I am a memoir addict, and started reading 4 books a day when I was 7; since then, my addiction has grown.

7.  I teach several writing workshops, one of which to homeless women, and they rock.

aargh

I definitely am a communications maven, the drawback being, I wasn’t savvy about social media management tools.  Last night, or night before, I read a whole page describing social media, but it would not enter my brain.  I think the Blog is my favorite (Psst, don’t tell the others). I’ve also added many blogs to follow, conquered LinkedIn, decided against shrinking my URL now, and am considering the blogs mentioned in MNINB, April 21.  I think I’m up to date, theory only.  I have to assimilate.

This morning I awakened thinking about Tweeting, Twittering, you catch my drift.

Before I started my blog, I communicated with a couple of hundred people around the world.  It helps to move a lot.  Al, my recent graduated from marketing at Yale, with his MBA, said, “You have to have a blog.”  I did.  I was grateful to my 2-3 followers; bless their stalwart qualities.

I blogged, FB’d, emailed everyone about everything.  I’ve written 2 books and can promote them well.  I teach writing, so there you go, more computer time.  I like FB.  I didn’t think Twitter could be used for ordinary computers.  I thought it was for cell phones, the kind of cellies my young friends carry, i.e., sleek black, red, buttons, icons, push here, push there.  I felt Twitter was the scoop-up-words type of thing, words from the top of my head.  I like to go deeper.  Too brief, too shallow, too Valley Girl almost.

LinkedIn repelled me.  I grew up in a family that regarded their status proudly. Boston was glutted with those families who know their social divides.  I didn’t retain these traditions.

So I thought, Linked-in-schminked-in.

Now, I’m a Twitterer, a FBer, definitely a blogger, an email, and a Yenta of sorts locally for people who look for work, relationships, just anything.  A new friend, in from India, said I’m like a local Google, except with a small g.

I write because I must.  I write to weave humor, pain, suffering, and I write about anything, from sow bugs and sorry gnats to concepts of racial justice, oneness,  and I glut Goodreads with my I’ve read or to read type of thing.  I subscribe to Powell’s on line, Book browse, locally, and on.

I am like an untrained Dalmatian.  I bound into life.  But, a concern I have, throwing aside professional need, is Twitter.

I wonder what sociologists will make of our current culture.  We have invisible lace webs over our heads that cartoon out – “didja eat,” “how bout them Dodgers,” and every other light through, phrase or sentence that settles tentatively on our brains.

What does this say indicate about attention span in the future?

I’m light, I’m funny, and I love whimsy and playing with words.  We do a lot of that on CHPercolatorcoffeehouseforwriters, and I guffaw on the floor over our hilarious exchanges.  But, I wonder, if we just go to a restaurant, casual, Marie Calender’s, Denny’s, Cocos, and see kids to adults to seniors.  A lot of heads are bent over their cell phones tweeting.

What about social skills?

We live in a society that is tremendously immediate.  Instant news.  “You heard it first at Blah Blah News.”  I can multitask without a blink of an eyelash.  But, can I sit down and study things, reflect at great length.  At this point in our world, is the speed of light winning, and reflection of the light losing?

I want quality.  I’m naturally speedy and can type rapidly.  But I want depth too.  It seems in the world today we inhale.  We inhale words, sounds, pressures, work, you name it.

A Hopi prophecy said, “When the world speeds up, slow down.”

That said.  I throw myself into my day and am enormously busy, but my relationships are fun and solid, and we form friendships in our writing circles, in my Baha’i life.

Sure, I’d like to be recognized; what writer wouldn’t.  But life is more than that.  I tell my students, we are reaching a time on the planet where arts should be everywhere, an Arts Rising type of thing.  The world is so busy, so full, why can’t we soar locally, forget the star system, a Kingdom of Names type of thing.  It’s all about bringing life and love and creativity to one another.  We don’t always need a stage.

I’d love and welcome other comments.  These are mine at the end of a busy Sunday.

 Graduation-address to graduates; fiction – Esther Bradley-DeTally (this was        

a CHPercolator prompt a while back)

Dear Graduates:

Here on the planet, at Earth School, in Dirt City, on the Blue  Marble, advice is going to be slung at you as you leave your  schooling behind.

I want to tell you a few things. One, fame is an illusion, because  it is just a mercurial moment in time and space where you are a star  who gleams brightly. We live in something called the Kingdom of Names which has to do with who we are, What We Wear, Who We Vote  For. Consider this, maybe that’s nice, necessary, and maybe unreal.  Think of a wider goal.

You are living in an era where you are World Citizens, and either through trial and struggle, or a great
consultative process, we the people of the nations, will go down a  road pointed towards the Oneness of Humanity, a Golden Age spoken of  by prophets and seers. We will do this by today’s standards, “Boys will be Boys” and blow up much of the planet, leaving a postage stamp  somewhere by an abandoned pond on which survivors will survive, and  abolish war forever. Better yet, we individually could all realize
our oneness and strive together for justice and unity.

Consider your body, it is a mass of teeming action and all parts work  to sustain the whole – homeostasis. Did you know that everything in  the spiritual world has an exact counterpart in the physical world?
We are carrying around a blue print for unity in diversity by the  mere fact of our bodies operating with intelligent rhythm.

As you leave this joyous commencement, you each will be handed a packet of instructions. They consist of:

A Hopi Message
A writing from Oriah Mountainkeeper
A Comment from Thomas Merton
A view from Etty Hillesum
An excerpt from the Baha’i Writings.

The rest is up to you.

Thank you for allowing me to deliver this commencement address in  record time, thus leaving no stone unturned.  I suggest you reflect  upon these handouts carefully in that some of you will be tested in
odd ways. Perhaps strangers will come to you and offer you the  chance of a lifetime, and the only way to accept this chance is to  leave with this stranger, thereby not saying goodbye to all you  love.

Some of you in the science fields will have to decide how you can contribute to the Earth’s Beleaguered Being, and come up with  solutions for the healing of the Earth’s Surface.

Mostly it is up to you to live your life independently, investigate truth independently, be just, know you are in the process of becoming your true selves, and finally, be aware, exceedingly aware, of the
exigencies of your time. In a phrase, power is no longer used for personal gain, but it is used for service.

May I suggest, service to humanity be your highest aim. May we all be blessed with your struggles and
attainment.

Handouts

Hopi Elder’s Message 2001 via email to me from friend in Ohio

To our fellow swimmers. There is a river flowing now very fast. It
is so great and swift, that there are those who will be afraid. They
will try to hold onto the shore; they will feel they are being torn
apart and will suffer greatly. Know that the river has its
destination. The Elders say that we must let go of the shore, push
off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our head
above the water. And we say, see who is there with you and
celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personal,
least of all ourselves, for the moment that we do, our Spiritual
growth and journey come to a halt. The time of the lone wolf is
over. Gather yourselves. Banish the word struggle from your
attitude and vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred
manner and in celebration. We are the ones we have been waiting for.

Share this.
———–
Invitation
Oriah Mountain Dreamer
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will
risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure
of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to
know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have
been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without
moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can
dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your
fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic,
remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I
want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If
you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every
day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and
still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the
full moon, ‘Yes.’
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you
have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and
despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I
want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and
not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I
want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls
away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly
like the company you keep in the empty moments.
———–
“If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like
to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in
detail, and ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for
the things I want to live for. Between those two answers you can
determine the identity of any person.”

Thomas Merton, from the Man in the Sycamore Tree

Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life, An entry dated August 20, 1941,
states:

“You must continue to take yourself seriously, you must remain your
own witness, marking well everything that happens in this world,
never shutting your eyes to reality. You must come to grips with
these terrible times, and try to find answers to the many questions
they pose. And perhaps the answers will help not only yourself but
also others.”

Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of
the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and
friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich,
an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of
thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be
unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto
them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the
thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the
victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all
thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a
tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a
guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the
countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of
the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind,
an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of
virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of
knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of
wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit
upon the tree of humility (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings
of Baha’u’llah, p. 285)

http://educationunderfire.com/the-vision/

Rainn Wilson did a college tour, not for the sake of comedy, but for that of human rights. Along with other panelists from Amnesty International, Education Under Fire, and the Bahá’í faith,Wilson spoke to a packed auditorium about a serious topic: the religious persecution of over 300,000 Iranian members of the Bahá’í faith.

The history of Bahá’í persecution dates back to the group’s inception. However recent government-sanctified systemic disenfranchisement (or as it’s called in polite circles, the passing of discriminating laws that bar Iranians identifying as Bahá’í from basic human rights like public services and education) has escalated to the point of attempts to shutter the underground university, Bahá’í Institute for Higher Education, and mass arrests of BIHE professors.

Many teachers are serving 4-5 year prison sentences from their arrest in May, 2011.

But why is the funnyman on a college campus for something so grave? “My family is Bahá’í. Had our family been living in Iran, my 7-year-old son would not be allowed go to school.”Wilsonhas appeared in Baha’i conferences before, but it was the events in May that helped organize these groups together. Amnesty International had been trackingIran’s human rights violations since the overthrow of the Shah during the 1970′s. Another group produced its namesake documentary, Education Under Fire, was born from the reactions of volunteers to keep the secret school operating and to spread the news of the persecution. The team spoke at several local Boston colleges like Boston University,Wheelock College, Harvard, and Tufts.

                       

Director Jeff Kaufman, actor Rainn Wilson, BIHL graduate Mojdeh Rohani , and Northeast Regional Director of Amnesty International Joshua Rubenstein .

The documentary screening and subsequent talk was intended to be a call to action.Wilsontold the audience, “Go and ask your schools to accept BIHE credits or help teach an online class.” Flyers given to attendees listed over a dozen ways potential activists could help their cause. But perhaps the best testimony came from a BIHE graduate, Mojdeh Rohani, now a graduate of BU’sSchoolofSocial Work.

“I still love my country. But when I’ve been asked to go and help them with disasters they find out I’m a Bahá’í, and I am rejected immediately. I have not been able to go back.”

The panel disbanded, and Wilson was whisked off towards the next stop of his tour, the airport.

To find out more about Education Under Fire, check out their website.

I hope people can respond to this! Thank you, Esther

http://www.bahai.us/

Somewhere down in San Diego, away in some hilly area, a retreat happened today, a women’s yearly retreat.  Last year they asked me to write a meditation for the last day, and I did.  They liked it.  They asked the same this year and suggested the title of Building Community.  Reader, frankly I was stuck.  I was stuck until I shared with my writing students how stuck I was, and the following images came to me of getting up, getting dressed, knitting, knitting friendships.  I hope you like it.  It is mostly Baha’i related, but I never write to just Baha’is, but rather, write to people – their inner essence, for we are all connected.

Building community. Esther Bradley-DeTally for the women who gather at retreat –Spring, 2012.

Building Community

 Oh dear, that heavy block-like phrase, so necessary for foundations, so hard to wield for the artistic mind, the mind that wants to build angel wings into the phosphorescent sky.

Oh well, you, out there, you women, sitting, standing, laughing, crying inside, with not enough to do, too much to do, do you feel as if a large building, let’s take an image of the Empire State Building, is over your head, descending on a crane, and the wires are frayed, as is your psyche, when this building obliterates all sun and light, and only shadows eclipse your tiny, puny, human frame?

No worries my duckies!  Take up words, and paints and colors, and throw some tea with jasmine, coffee with creamed soy of buttercup, butternut essence, grab a friend, a kid, a knitting needle, find a canopy, from arbors of Bougainvillea to hard, green, snappy, umbrellas over the outwardly composed urban woman.

In other words duckies, don’t sweat it.

There’s no one golden bricked path to building communities, no one particular hard hat to wear.  Think:

Mornings:  get up.

This in itself is an immense achievement, because we do it, day after day, year after year.  That’s what women do best.  They get up.

Okay, put on clean underwear.  Any kind duckies.  I still wear granny types, but thongs will do.  Count your blessings if said inner garment is not inside out.  That’s part of getting up.

Shovel the body together, teeth, nails, and do whatever you have to do, the laundry, the work, the subway, the elevated, the car with too big a tank, or the silent runs on the latest tech – you catch my drift.

Think – knit, purl.  Yes, that’s right, knit, and purl.  Duckies, this is what we do.  Let all the manly Germanic phrases of “build community” slide off your head, like excess water in the ears from the swimming pool.  Let it slide down your neck, off your shoulders, down your thighs, your ankles and into the ground.  This is California, and we could use the water.

Knit one stitch at a time, because that’s you, creating whatever base you need, tight, little bits of yarn sitting next to each other like sparrows on a telephone wire, keeping each other company, overseeing the world.  Then if you want to be bon vivant, try the pearl, a backward knit? Who knows, but you catch my drift.  Pull things together one stitch at a time.

You’ll make it; soon you will have knit friendships into this fabric of yours.  Find someone you like, maybe very different from you, but you like that person.  You want his/her qualities.  Knit her into your heart’s edges.

Places to find loose stitches:

The library

Writing Groups

12 Step Programs

Coffee places where everyone shouts and hollers to each other,or whispers, take your pick.

Dogs, talk to them all, if they are on a leash and their canines aren’t fanged and pointed right at you.

Extra points:

Long obligatory prayer in morning, Tablet of Ahmad for yourself, any others

Prayers, prayers for others, i.e., parents, kids, healing, protection, the Baha’is in Iran, help immensely.

Private talk with trusted friends, the ones you can bay at the moon with and grow German shepherd fur on your throat. (We’ve all been there)

Time to make your own list; this is just from an old gal with a writing voice of a 35-year-old, but this is something I count upon for sure, and I’m 73 and in thrive right now:

“Nothing save that which profiteth them shall ever befall My loved ones.”

Baha’u’llah

Check the quote, not sure I have it just picture perfect in print.

Have a glorious hour, day, week, month, and life.

Esther

A friend, Al, who is in advertising,  said to me one day over coffee at Peets in California, “You need to have a blog,” and so because of that casual remark and my faith in his techy wisdom.  I commenced walking over rocks and pebbles of techy knowledge, and a blog was born.

September 5, 2006, Sorry-Gnat enters hyperspace life letting those who are interested know that in the Baha’i Writings one can go on the path of transformation and be a sorry gnat and become a giant eagle.

“I’ve just had lunch at Tuohey’s Restaurant in Alhambra and had dinner there last night.  No I’m not trying to be giant like an eagle physically.  I’ve ruminated a good deal about stuff to put into this blog:  poetry?  pug dogs? notes about books?  human rights? racial justice: schlepping, Esther, don’t forget schlepping.  I have a lot to learn on this blog, and will consult with my techy friends as to how, what, why, when!  I’m reading The Earth is Flat, Thomas Friedman, excellent. Very good writer.  We just saw Jessica, our granddaughter, at an early soccer practice.  She’s almost 7-going into first grade, and all the little girls are not aggressive players at all, but very cute.

Today, April 5, 2012.

Well Jessica is 12 now, and has an equanimity about her and kindness to all that I adore.  My family was like a Rorschach test, and I used to wonder what it’s like if my kid had the soul of an accountant.  He didn’t, and that’s okay, but Jessica, my granddaughter’s mom, leans to that side:  stable, and a tremendous educator with regards to child rearing.

Okay, I do blogs, and  at times in my life the only themes seem to be pug dogs or spirituality, and for a while pug dogs were winning.  Of late, it’s books, and maybe a while or so about my adequacy level down by my ankle bones,  blogging wise-the techy side.  I’ve avoided Twitter.  Facebook?  Boys and girls, I’ve got FB down; I have friends all over the globe.  The good thing about moving 17 different times in 25 years is you meet a lot of people.

Sure I grieved over leaving some, but I tell you, I’ve met incredible people and to this day I never cease to wonder.  Today we had lunch at Farideh’s and we had Tadiq, golden crusted flat slabs of potato under Basmati rice.  Oink.  We had wild salmon, vegetables even turnip.  Then we had dessert served on creamy white china and looked like a vibrant water color:  blueberries,  peachy colored mango, and a scoop of vanilla soy ice cream.  I’m so slogged with fatigue and memories of good food, my brain turns to sludge.  Later I hooked up with Jean a new person in our Baha’i community.

She’s new to Pasadena, and hasn’t been in the States for 10 years.  She has lived in India, and I can’t remember the name of her city; small – 5 million, but she’s traveled all over. Did I mention she’s blind and gets around by cane.  We’ve hung out before.  She’s done everything; social worker, worked in radio stations, done voice over, teaches ESL, works via the computer.  No dust on her heels!  It gave me just another chance to marvel.

Tomorrow, I’m off at a little before noon to a Christian church up the Street on Lake, in Altadena/Pasadena area, where the Ecumenical Council is observing Good Friday.  I remember Good Friday when I was Catholic, sitting in the silence of the church, the religious figures draped in purple silk, and I remember a day before, called Holy Thursday, when Liz, my twin, and her best friend Jannie Cleary, walked and visited the 7 Catholic churches, a tradition we participated in only once.  When we got home that day my sister Meb (Mary Ellen Bradley) was hanging her head out of the bath room window on the second floor, showing a newly bleached blonde.

We were three sisters; close in many ways, and yet Meb would die of alcoholism, as my mother did.  They were terrific.  They both played classical music, and I can’t not stop when I hear Chopin’s polonaise in something Minor.  My mom died when we were 17, and my sister died when I was living in Dnepropetrovsk. She was the size of a twig, ravished by emphysema and years of alcoholism which I think she kicked towards the end.  She had once survived on the streets for five years.

So back to homeless women.  I’ve done two things in my life influenced by these two women so close to my heart.  My mom had Latvian Babushkas come to our little house on Wren Street, tuck into the small kitchen with the red checkered oilcloth table covering, and she’d teach them English for free.  They talked of their husbands, “lost behind the Iron Curtain,” and I’d visualize a large iron shower curtain stretched across a vast empty land.

Years later, in 1990, I traveled to Siberia with Bill, my husband.  I wrote a book Without A Net: A Sojourn in Russia, which tells about Meb, Russia,Ukraine, and all.  People like it.  I often thought  my mother’s selfless act of reaching out had reverberations into the future, when I, her daughter, very much her daughter, went into Slavic countries for service only.

That said, we’ve lived in Pasadena for 11 years, and it’s the longest we’ve ever lived anywhere.  Bill is 77 and I am 73, and first we house sat in a gorgeous condo for 3 years and then found this pool house, and we can afford the rent they charge which is not high.  I’ve survived open heart surgery, having the surgeons write the whole business off for free, and I’ve had a lot of trips to Cardiology at Kaiser, bleeding out, stuff like that, but now I thrive.  I’m like a Russian doll that tips over and bounces back.  Someone said to me the other day, “You have a strong life force,” and I do.  I feel life gets better and better for women as they age. I am no longer moth-holed by self-doubt and scalding inner words of rebuke.  I’m me now, and I sort of glow at times, at least when I’m teaching writing, meeting friends for coffee and always stretching to do more.

Poem by Chris Annick

poetry of women from women's room - fund raiser flyer

A few years ago I gave a goodly amount of writing workshops-method, process, and did so for free at the local library branch of La Pintoresca in Northwest Pasadena.  The Women’s Room a group formed and created by members who were connected to an Ecumenical Council realized women in Pasadena, either homeless or in transition, had nowhere to go.  This is a day refuge, but oh what a refuge. Showers, laundry, good food, make up suggestions now and then are available, and oh, my writing class.   Long story short, a room above the food pantry of Friends in Deed was created, like a small living room, dusty peach walls, art with symbols of 3 poppies, art on the wall, small kitchen and on Tuesdays 1-3 I teach writing.  Everyone is welcome, the volunteers and the guests (homeless/in transition) and it is truly solidified in love and community.  The bonds are strong.

We were asked to have something for tomorrow’s program at this Church.  I wrote a poem on forgiveness.  I’ll publish it later.  Then I had the women do a group poem, each writing 2 lines.

They’ve performed before; different women, different voices, and at first they were terrified.  But after they had the guts to get up behind a microphone and say their piece, their pieces, they were and are proud.  You can’t take that away from anyone.  Above is a poem written by Chris Annick which graced our first fundraiser flyer.

I always say to them before they read, “Own this.  Own your voice,” and by golly they do.  So with that, I didn’t expect this to be such a rattle on blog, but here you go, and that’s the facts Jack.

1. Please tell us about you the person and the author:

Glad that’s worded that way, because above all we are all persons first. In 1990 I started publishing personal and reflective essays in various journals. A writer friend from Israel had recommended me and many other yet to be published writers to write for a particular publication in Australia/New Zealand. This journal was globally distributed. When my friend suggested I submit some of my stuff, I thought, “Is that stuff under the bed collecting dust balls?” But in 1992 I was married to my wonderful husband Bill and we were living in Ukraine, in the City of Dnepropetrovsk, and this magazine published an essay about our lives in Ukraine.

I’m from Boston, born in Boston, and I remember blackout curtains from World War II on our windows and peeing in the dark. I remember the 50s and being a Catholic girl and going to a public high school. I had no writing inclination, but read voraciously from six years on. A huge influence was my mom who became a major alcoholic, but was a lover of books and also taught Latvian women to speak and read English when they came to our little brown rented house on Wren Street, and they spoke of the Iron Curtain, and their husbands lost behind this curtain. I remember thinking in images of a giant iron shower curtain spread across a vast land.

I grew up in a stratified society, where people drew lines about religious affiliations, class position, race, difference. I was a child in the 40s, a young girl in the 50s and was Catholic. In my twenties, I drove to California after the Cuban crisis, drove out by myself. My mother had died; my father remarried; my twin was somewhere; the family was dysfunctional and scattered. My older brother and sister weren’t around. I was a legal secretary and outwardly gutsy but inwardly a wimp.

I discovered the Baha’i Faith at 27, and felt as if I stepped out of a black and white photograph into the land of color. I stopped drinking, even though I hadn’t yet connected the dots of alcoholism sitting in my family’s history box for generations. I immediately became aware of the oneness of humanity, and my old stereotypical views fell off me like corrugated cardboard. Still, until I die, I must be aware of prejudice and how it is inhaled by a baby when born. My life is incredibly full –I teach writing to homeless women and others. I give a lot of free workshops. I guess you could say my husband and I are activists as we totally believe in service to the community at large. I used to be fearful but didn’t show it, and I faced life and have crawled over railroad tracks in Donetsk and been in Ukraine during the Russian coup and written a book about it. I’ve been to Siberia, and I have a son Nicholas who is married and a granddaughter. One last thing: I jump out of airplanes to say hello to Pug Dogs even if they are only dark little dots on the ground. That’s sounds very year-booky.

Mostly I totally believe in the splendor of the human condition, and am horrified by the meanness of our age, but have tremendous hopes for the future. I believe one becomes mystical by embracing the grit of one’s time and that we should be anxiously concerned about the needs of our age. I am the last of my siblings, my twin having died a few years ago. I’ve survived heart surgeries, blah, blah, blah, and walk an hour a day; sound like a gadabout and light up like a pinball machine when celebrating, reading, writing, a good book, justice, being a solace to someone else, being a source of light and laughter.

2. When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

In 1980, when I got a chance to go back to college, I wanted to learn writing.

3. Did you take any classes or go to school to learn to write, or did it just come naturally

No. Writing letters came naturally, but I had no idea whether studying writing would ruin my fledgling writing or not. I went to UC Irvine and enrolled as a junior at 42 as a single mom, fresh from what felt like 100 years of work as a legal secretary. I majored in English as I read voraciously and thought that the most practical. I had no dreams of becoming an attorney. I took a summer class and wrote a story about a blue dye eviscerating the earth from a jeans factory and a dog named Lance I think. I didn’t have the knowhow or the courage to have dialogue. There was lance, the blue dye, the inhabitants of earth leaving the planet, and the owner of lance, a woman who died.
My first writing teacher said, “Take every writing course this school has to offer.”

I took expository writing in the second quarter and the TA said “Take every writing course this school has to offer,” because I wrote a piece about who I was after reading an excerpt of May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude. Reader her talk about depression, writing and planting flowers caused me to think, I can do this. I remember feeling electrified, not hugely, but nevertheless animated.

I then took Beginning Fiction with Oakley Hall, and I was nervous. He has written a book on the novel; was co-head of the UCI Writing Program, and is well respected. He went to Iowa I think. I was nervous until I looked under the large square table where we all assembled, and I saw faded purple Rit died socks, and then looked up into his broad face, and kind eyes, and his hair looked like yarn. He taught how to show, how to be the camera eye, how to use strong verbs, and I flourished.

I then went on to take an advanced writing class with the other co-head who didn’t like older women, but thought I was a very good writer. He tried to discourage me, and I think he did so, because he didn’t make it in the way he expected. It was rough, but I hung in.

Then I took journalism with a very good Journalist who had been nationally known, and he said, “You are a good writer, but what the hell are you trying to say.” I also took courses after graduating as part of teacher training in teaching secondary writing, and Writing the Natural Way. I use those methods when I teach workshops.

I also took from the Pied Piper of Workshop Leaders, Jack Grapes in Los Angeles who is a method writing teacher, and I took his beginning workshop. Then I waited 10 years, took his advanced courses, and around 2003 I was bursting through sound barriers. . I have written 2 books: Without A Net: A Sojourn in Russia and You carry the Heavy Stuff, the most recent.

I took a UCLA class too and we were not allowed to praise or criticize anyone’s writings, no comments, but the instructor told me I was very good. So yes, I took classes and really learned method, and craft of showing, use strong verbs, and still read voraciously.

4. Please tell us about your book and how did you come up with the idea for it.

As I mentioned I had a previous book, and the 2nd edition has pictures. Without A Net: A Sojourn in Russia, about our 3 year period before, during and after the breakup of the Soviet Union. It is a personal view, a behind the scenes sideways type of thing – personal, funny, sad, hard, and spiritual.

I joined CHPercolator Coffeehouse for writers because my friend Steve kept encouraging me. We all give prompts to write about at periodic intervals and thus, writers from around the globe write or not write every day.

After 2 years, I looked at my previous writing and the CHPerc bundle, and thought “It’s time to do another book.” It’s called You Carry the Heavy Stuff and has a street sign that says, “It’s all grist for the Mill, been there, done that, what’s next,” with a pug’s back to the reader and a tall thin red-haired lady with an old leather type valise, inky papers sticking out of it, and she’s wearing red high top sneakers. That’s my persona. I have used “It’s all grist for the mill” so much; people will soon begin to scream.

I had a mother in law who was the size of a small tree trunk and didn’t take noth’in from no one and we lived with her after we came back from Russia because we didn’t think it was wise for her to live alone. When I first met her, Bill and I were packing up our bags to drive away, and she and I were loading stuff at an open trunk, when this low growly voice (hers) said to me, “You carry the heavy stuff for him.” So I wrote a piece about her.

Anna was her name, and Italian momma was her game. I both laughed inwardly and groaned. I wasn’t insulted. Had I been 20, I’d have run away. This book is a series of poetry and prose about who I was, am; life in an office cubicle; life in middle school and a world view taking shape, life after 9/11; essays on prejudice, which makes my African-American friends cry, and essays on spirituality and eating falafel at the Mercatz (shopping area top of Haifa hills) in Israel. I also talk lightly and deeply about social conditions, Baghdad, being a twin, having a twin die, and packing for the future. All of my pieces reflect varied writing styles.

A fellow writer wrote “You Carry the Heavy Stuff reveals an author who engages life with grit, honesty and good humor. Bradley-DeTally rests thoughtfully at a quiet stream to make serene observations, and then she’s up and away again to fight her good fight with a Tally HO! A refreshing read that combines a depth dimension with the tragicomedy that is life.”

I was going to call the book Writing on the Fly, and I had everything in it: fiction, surrealism, poetry, short stories, and then I trimmed it down and a friend said, “Writing on the Fly is overused.” So I had a brief contest where I promised a few select friends a Starbucks coffee card if they voted on a selection of about 5 titles. You Carry the Heavy Stuff carried the day.

I don’t outline. Let me repeat that I don’t outline. I free write and then I tweak, tweak, tweak. I am pretty spontaneous and word crazy some friends might add.

5. Which of your characters were your favorite and why?

My favorite characters are pugs and the people in Children of the Stolen Ones, a poem I hope which gives honor to my brothers and sisters of African heritage.

6. What traits and characteristics did you give some of your characters to make them memorable? Courage, nobility and the human condition is a sideways view.

7. Does your book have any important themes or lessons you wanted to convey?

Well, it’s memoir-ish so the traits would be pissy, funny, ballsy, outspoken, socially concerned, deeply spiritual, thrown in with the theme of global citizenship and the inhumanity of man and the humanity of man (generic man of course).

My themes speak of the wonders and need for oneness; the need to throw prejudice off the planet, the nobility of the anonymous and the suffering among us, the struggle and beauty of the dying cancer patients, the humanity of others, and the downright wonders of slinging around language like hash.

8. What was the road to publication like? Was it turbulent or fairly easy?

I am too old to look for an agent, and have a small following – think larger than a beer truck but smaller than the Coliseum in LA so my friend Steve said “Publish through Lulu.” He has done so with several witty books. Reader it was hell, pure unadulterated hell. Very Kafkaesque and tortuous until I finally gave in and bought a Lulu package, and then it was a miracle. Price wise it’s the best so far, but I’m not an enchanted devotee. One gets lost in Lulu like getting lost in the Hotel California, “It’s a lovely place….but you can’t get out …. Lost in the Hotel California.The biggest thing about a book is not thinking about writing one, not thinking about publishing, but marketing after it’s done. My advice is take it step my step and “follow the force” so to speak.

9. Please tell a reader what they should know about your book before the purchase them.

It’s creative non-fiction, spunky, funny, shows a variety of writing styles, almost a book of prompts plus points of view as an extra added package! It’s 14.96 (the extra penny is the hell part.) Also there’s a download – e book type of thing. (You Carry The Heavy Stuff) http://stores.lulu.com/sorrygnat and http://www.amazon.com/Carry-Heavy-Stuff
Esther-Bradley-DeTally. I recommend the Lulu site because you can read some of the pages. I also have some I can mail.

10. Words of wisdom for aspiring writers.

Read, read, read, read, write, journal, write, never give up; take courses, watch, listen learn, imitate, and trust the process.

estherbill@gmail.com http://sorrygnat. Word press. com blog

11. What current projects are you working on?

I am writing a book about someone with deleted memory; in interview process and at the beginning right now. I also teach the writing process, currently with homeless women, and their volunteers, and under the literacy umbrella of local libraries, plus give individual sessions and have writing groups.

11. What do you want your legacy to be- to have left the world showing worlds of unity, love and laughter, and to be a point of light in the dark dark nights of the soul, and to laugh and yuk about recipes, ham sandwiches and to promote the oneness of mankind, but to write, and know the power of words, the love of them, their ordinariness and majesty and not to worry about publishing, but think of the journey itself.

I wish for a world where everyone is a trust of the whole.

Esther’s ten favorites.

Favorite time of day?

First cup of coffee brought to me in bed by wonderful husband of 25 years.

Dessert: vanilla ice cream and dark, thick and creamy hot fudge sauce.

Teacher – Miss Halloran, in book; changed my world view from neighborhood to vast history and dimensions and the dangers of war within a 5 minute read of giant poster on her wall.

Social networking site; Facebook

Favorite city: Pasadena

Music – Rodrigo’s Concerto de Aranjuez

Color: the rainbow

Pastime: drinking coffee, and talking about real stuff with friends

Book: Oh my the over 600 on Goodreads, but if you don’t have time, Gleanings by Baha’u’llah, and An Interrupted Life, Etty Hillesum, and, and

‘Nothing save that which profiteth them shall ever befall my loved ones.’-Baha’u’llah

You Carry the Heavy Stuff

Nov 07, 2010 10:31am

http://educationunderfire.com/multimedia/

 From You Carry the Heavy Stuff, Esther Bradley-Detally – on Lulu.com., Amazon, and   Author’s possession 

Children of the Stolen Ones
(for Gloria Haithman—December 2, 2004)

“Greens” makes me think of Ola Mae’s Greens, down in my belly, in Olean,New York, as crowds of us burst into Ola Mae’s Restaurant on a regular basis to shoot the breeze, eat her famous Greens, and just to feel all’s well with the world.  Here in Pasadena,California, the subject of greens and chitlins came up.  I thought of Ola Mae, the camaraderie, her corn bread too, and just feeling part of the woodwork welcomed by her open heart and Best-Greens-Cook-In-The-World self.

In Pasadena, on a Wednesday night, Gloria talked about the same thing, but went a step further.  She spoke of soul food on another level, the spiritual teachings of love, hope, and faith.  She spoke to our insides where there are no colors.  Gloria said, “We were not colored when we were born.  Yeah, I thought, we came in that way, and no one crayoned some in, or bleached others out.

What if, instead of calling the dark ones, the Negroes, the People of Color, names given by history book scribes, say, “Black or African-Americans?” Then a phrase measured out, by Gloria, entered our gathering, all the while she was telling of a story of friends who called themselves The Sisters.  These Sisters went to South Africa, honoring their roots, and seeking answers to their identities.  On the trip they were constantly greeted by groups of women who would sing to them.  One day they met some African women who had the “Who are You? Where are you from?” look in their eyes, all the while staring at The Sisters.

One of the South African women said, “They are Children of the Stolen Ones.” Back in Pasadena, sitting on the orange velvet couch, those small noble words, “The Stolen Ones,” bombarded my heart as I felt my soul sink into a place of utter knowingness, of a reverence and majesty revealed.

As a white lady, an older one, who learned of our essential oneness some forty years before and humbly stayed on the thorny and pitted path of discovery and unity, I sat there stunned.  I repeated the phrase over and over to myself.  “Children… Children of the… Children of the Stolen Ones….”

Yes, and for me it was a rightful and merciful appellation.

Finally, dignity and solace packed into five words.  Measure it out on the tongue, slowly: “The Stolen Ones… Children of the Stolen Ones.” Feel your heart melt as if a great and timeless grief has finally been acknowledged.

My heart bowed a humble bow to the true nature of an incredible people, their majestic endurance, their ancestors.  I’m no artist and don’t know my colors, and I live in a world that thinks it knows its colors, and colors inside the lines, not outside—the “lines” being the operative word.

Well, I’d say in this year of 2004, “Maybe we should hear The Sisters, our sisters’, call from South Africa,” and use lines to wrap around: Majesty, Dimension, Endurance, Courage.  Name every quality our sisters and brothers of African heritage carry with fortitude, and you come up with, in my book, “The Chosen Ones.” And, what if God and his Messengers and Prophets saw that these Chosen Ones endured trials similar to the Minor Prophets? And what if Bahá’u’lláh knew His love for His Chosen Ones, knew they suffered the banishment, the chains, the whippings, as He, in the Path of God?

So here’s the final what if—what if this planet really was a testing ground to see who could show courage under fire, love of God, love of people despite that the Stolen Ones and their kin were also robbed? But wait, here’s another view.  I think the Children of the Stolen Ones are the Morning Glories of our age! Their children; their children’s children.  It’s the story Morning Glory.

Let’s proclaim, let’s shout, and let us bow in reverence to our ancestors, ransomed so we might reframe our hearts and join each other in history’s future where lines are a thing of the past and colors are loved-filled stripes of every hue.

Skin Color

At the Black History Parade, put on by the Jackie RobinsonCenter, one cold, but sun-emerging day, paralytic agony stops my nouns, verbs and adverbs describing skin color or lack thereof.  Pain fills my heart as my eyes Braille the sadness of a man’s face, deep rivets line his cheeks, highlighting generational discounts and the pitter patter of white voices.

Numbness clots my throat at this morning’s Parade, while those in other parts of the city, those from White gulags, tuff lawns, buff cars, and spread glossy interracial magazines, photo ops on tables, never viewed by the living.

Brown vs. Board, wasn’t that inTopeka?

In Idaho, Bill and I share a table with a Nigerian psychiatrist.  It’s lunch time in a hospital cafeteria,  and Bill asks a question which floats over our salads:

“Do you have to emphasize your African heritage”?

An acknowledged “Yes.”

A rueful, half-stated reply, “My children will not have that advantage.”

On the broad palettes of television’s life experts on society, are noticeable by their absence of color. Hey, what about The News Hour with Gwen Ifill?  Yeah, and Colin Powell, and… Yeah?  Hey guys, take the tour of Any City, USA, where two separate neighborhoods exist—bookends of ideological contrast.  One is spacious, forgiving, and tolerant, with wide streets, large houses and gracious plants, suggesting it’s easy to feel benevolent.  The other part contains narrow streets, boards on windows, hunger at night, restless poverty, and shootings.  Skin color privilege cuts its wide swath.

I can say no more.

CXXX: Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in …

1

Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility.

Awakened to cup of coffee in bed; staggered to computer; am on Word Press this am with thatched head, but Persecution of a Christian Minister in alarm shot my body full of, “Post this on SorryGnat,” and lo and behold, good old Word Press offered a prompt: When you are most happy?

Dear WP Question Person,

I am most happy when I drive up my driveway and my husband comes out of our small pool house and is just there, but then of course there are days when I spot pug dogs through my inner radar and Kismet, by the end of the day, I am sprawled on a pavement, petting said beastie, even though my friends shake their heads at my constant devotion to Pugs, and still I am most happy when I see writers emerge from their cardboard boxes which were labeled “I don’t write, I can’t write,” and like last night, offer revisions of the Three Little Pigs, turn the story on its head by having the first pig (of straw, and lazy, darned lazy if you ask me), and find out this little pig had invested in derivatives, and now, only now, when red stiletto heel click along New York streets, in huff puff, click, click, hurry to my job, don’t know how long it will last,” all the while these red stiletto heels, which if you want to know, can have outer soles of turquoise and magenta print, if the person, wearette of said stiletto, is well heeled financially, and now on to more than feet, because this is about happiness, and I’m most happy when I think some day, despite the crocodile kingdom here on earth, and dripping juicy mouths in political power (not all) (there are nice cats and dogs in the mix in leadership in this country), but back to the question, my tummy and my heart, and my soul are in sinc (not sink) (another day, another tale) when I see on the horizon, signs, not of Humvees built as slug bugs for war and destruction, but hands, thin hands, old hands, wrinkled hands, long tapered fingernails, fingers bumpy and sludgy and chewed, tough hands covered, dark hands, covered with dust, Kardashian hands pampered and isolated, but all hands, get to the point, writer, reaching out around this Parker’s Pen Color of Blue Ink Planet hold one another, some grasping one another, and despite a world gone tilt, bonkers, and a world which may be screaming, “I miss my hormones,” is lurching towards maturity, even though the crocodiles, hereinafter called The Crocs, salivate and slide towards a fugue state of power, illusive and unattainable, because some day we will be one, and every baby born (visualize Kunte Kinte(sp) holding his richly brown velvet baby son to the sky, and someone in Idaho lifting a peaches and cream baby up to trees stretching as if hands up in praise to their unseen Divine Essence (Higher Power too Germanic in tone to put here), and that day when each baby will be perceived, cherished, regarded as a “Trust of the Whole,” and we will get about our planetary work, and that’s a good Tuesday morning reason for being happy, because happiness is not an outside thing in that it’s just about pleasure, but reader, if you have been patient enough to go through this all, would you consider that abiding joy, and release from oppression and We Are One is our divine right?

This isn’t to say there are not a gazillion other reasons, like listening to a young doctorate in realization of astrophysics, skate across the sky and explain planetary dust in such a fascinating way as she reads in a basement in a store called fair trade, on Lake Avenue, in Pasadena, if you want to know, where a bunch of us writers laugh and cavort and toss bon mots of principles, concerns and an occasional jello recipe around – that makes me happy, and one other thing, because I’m on my way there – giving people voice; how on God’s Green Earth did I get so lucky to teach at the Women’s Room in Pasadena, said WR is an offshoot of Friends in Deed, an ecumenical group, and the WR is a day haven for women to take showers, do laundry, get decent food, most to commune with one another, and to participate, those who wish, in writing and slipping on their newly acquired writing voices to the cheers and huzzahs of the group, (we are way beyond Vogue and Marie Claire magazine), and I guess I can sum all of this “oh how we dance” piece in it’s about service, “walking the mystical path with practical feet” and helping one another and seeing everyone as a soul in progress or process and realizing we are just at the beginning of this journey. So those are my Tuesday morning reasons. (Quotes I’ve used come from Baha’i Writings or my own stuff reader, and if you know how to use spell check on this here Word Press, I’d be grateful till the end of the day.-E)

Baha’i International Community calls for release of Christian pastor facing death sentence

GENEVA, 4 October 2011 (BWNS) – The Baha’i International Community has joined the call for the release of Youcef Nadarkhani, a Christian pastor from Rasht, Iran.

Pastor Nadarkhani, who is the father of two young children, leads a network of house churches. He was found guilty of apostasy – “turning his back on Islam” – and “converting Muslims to Christianity,” and sentenced to death in September 2010.

Iran’s Supreme Court recently asked for a re-examination of the case to establish whether or not he had been a practising Muslim adult before he converted to Christianity. The court ruled he was not but, nevertheless, is still guilty of apostasy because he has Muslim ancestry.

The case has sparked strong condemnation from governments, organizations and religious leaders around the world.

Then on 1 October, following this global outcry, Iranian state media suddenly reported that Pastor Nadarkhani had in fact been sentenced for other reasons – including violent crimes, extortion, Zionism and being a traitor. These charges had never once been mentioned throughout the entire period when Pastor Nadarkhani was charged, tried, sentenced, up to and including the most recent court hearing.

Statement from the Baha’i International Community:

We join with the global chorus of condemnation protesting the sentencing of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, and calling for his release.

For a court of law to rule against someone from Muslim ancestry who has freely chosen to be a Christian is yet another instance of the brutality being meted out by the Iranian authorities on their own people.

The recent public proclamation reporting that the charges against Pastor Nadarkhani have been changed – as a result of the global outcry at his conviction – only further exposes the arbitrary nature of decisions made by the judiciary system of Iran and the transparent injustice of the situation.

The sentence he faces is not only reprehensible; it is a violation of every legal, moral, spiritual and humanitarian standard.

Which temporal government in the world can reasonably decide it has the power to curtail freedom of belief? Belief is not something that can be taken away or bartered; it is a matter of conviction, of the heart, the mind and the soul, beyond the realm of any government’s control.

The Baha’i community understands well the challenging circumstances facing minorities living in Iran today. And now it is evident that those minorities which are nominally recognized by the state are as equally subordinate to the majority as those who have no rights.

There is little need to rehearse here the endless list of executions, torture, imprisonments, privations and other afflictions that are being meted out on the sorely-tried people of Iran.

Everything that country’s representatives profess on the world stage is contradicted by their treatment of their own people at home. Yet, its officials travel freely to other nations where they are offered a platform from which to broadcast their untruths, denying the callous treatment of their own citizens while displaying pretensions of good will for the people of the world.

There is much to be done to alert the people of the world to the hypocrisy of a government which is widely and continually oppressing its people.

There is much to be done for humanity to be alerted to what is going on inside Iran and to be awakened to the appalling memory of what can occur when we fail to act against state-sponsored, campaigns of hatred.

Below is the text of a Huffington Post article, with links to further
information

The Trials of an Educator in Iran
Anthony Vance, Director of External Affairs, Baha’is of the United States

“If your tea is too sweet, you can stir it the other way.” This kind of
quip was typical of Mahmoud Badavam and of Persian humor in general. I saw him
frequently as a college student in the mid-1970s in Cambridge,
Massachusetts where he gained a reputation for a quick, wry sense of humor. At that
time, Iranians were few and far between in the U.S. So, it was an eye-opener
to be exposed to the exquisite courtesy, humor, and hospitality that can be
so prevalent in Iranian culture and that certainly was not lacking among
the handful of Iranian students studying in universities in the Boston area
at the time. None of us suspected then that revolution in Iran was just
around the corner. With the large number of political and religious refugees
it would bring in its wake, exposure to Iranian culture would soon become
common place. But, at the time, Mahmoud and a small handful of others were
novel and made a deep impression on me. I met Mahmoud in Baha’i meetings — a
religious faith we both shared. He returned home just before the
revolution and chose, despite the difficulties it created for Baha’is, to stay.

On May 21 of this year and the days that followed, during raids on over 30
Baha’i homes in four cities in Iran, Mahmoud was one of 18 people arrested
for teaching in or administering the Baha’i Institute for Higher
Education. In late July, after the release of some of those arrested, Mahmoud and 7
others were reportedly charged with “conspiracy against national security”
and “conspiracy against the Islamic Republic” by “establishing the illegal
Baha’i Institute for Higher Education”. The first of the trials is
reportedly set to start this Monday, September 12. For years, he had used his
Masters degree in engineering from M.I.T. and his earlier training in Iran to
provide classroom instruction to Baha’i youth who had been barred since the
revolution from Iran’s system of higher education. The arrest on May 22 was
not his first. He returned to Iran in 1978, married shortly thereafter, and
held a job as an engineer in the government. Soon after the Islamic
Revolution, he was fired, lived with relatives in different cities, was arrested
for being a Baha’i and imprisoned for about three years.

In revolutionary Iran, among the many forms of persecution directed at
their community, Baha’is were dismissed from university teaching positions and
students were dismissed from institutions of higher education. After
numerous failed appeals to the government to correct this injustice, in 1987 the
Baha’i community organized what came to be known as the Baha’i Institute
for Higher Education to provide university-level instruction to its youth.
In recent years, BIHE was a central part of Mahmoud’s life with regular
classes in his small apartment in Tehran and administrative and curriculum
review meetings held late into the night. He spent most evenings and weekends
correcting homework and preparing for his classes. If planning with others
to educate young people can in some contorted worldview equate with
conspiracy against national security, I suppose Mahmoud and anyone else who has
ever transferred skills in the arts or sciences to a student is guilty as
charged — and unabashedly so. Over the years, others in Iran and abroad
learned about this endeavor and volunteered to assist with it.

Similar raids and arrests on BIHE were recorded in 1998, 2001, and 2002.
The official government position was documented in a 2006 letter from Iran’s
Ministry of Science, Research and Technology addressed to 81 state run
universities and institutions of higher education and in a 1991 Memorandum
signed by Dr. Seyyed Mohammad Golpaygani, the secretary of the Supreme
Revolutionary Cultural Council, with a signature endorsement of the Supreme
Leader, Ali Khamenei. Each of these documents specifically mandates the expulsion
from Iran’s system of higher education of any student who is discovered to
be a Baha’i.

The banning of Baha’is from higher education is a violation of the
International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights to which Iran is a
State Party. I hope that such a grievous assault on an entire minority
group consisting of about 300,000 people will not go unprotested by the world
community. In the meantime, from the bleakness of Evin Prison, far from the
beautiful summer to fall change of seasons in Cambridge, Massachusetts,
Mahmoud Badavam can only pray that some day he will get back to correcting
homework, preparing for classes, and perhaps even coming up with a new
witticism about tea from time to time.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anthony-vance/the-trials-of-an-educator_b_9546
42.html

http://iran.bahai.us/

In my reading of Logos and Civilization, I found on page 86 “The concept of destiny in the Baha’i writings, on the other hand, becomes compatible with the relative freedom of human beings. It is clear that Baha’u’llah’s concept of the mystery of destiny is not one of passivity and unfreedom. To realize one’s destiny is not a mere acceptance of whatever “is”; on the contrary, it is an active movement toward realizing spiritual values in one’s own life and developing the potentialities and perfections hidden like “gems,” in the “mine” of one’s own being (Gleanings 260). the mystery of destiny, then, among other things, precisely implies transcending the opposition between the divine will and the individual will. It represents the actualization of all one’s spiritual powers and the maturation of one’s potentialities to the degree that one freely chooses spiritual values and the will of God. this is the stage of perfect freedom and moral autonomy, in which human potentialities are actualized in harmony with divine revelation. That is why Baha’u’llah defines this valley as both the station of mystery and the secret of maturation. it implies the integration of the approaches based on self, reason, and love.”

— Logos And Civilization Spirit, History, and Order in the Writings of Baha’u’llah, Nader Saiedi
Please note, I, esther, can’t find out how to accent appropriate syllables.

From…. WorldUnityMedia.com/ Quote of the Day, Sat., August 13, 2011

“Thou hast asked Me concerning the nature of the soul. Know, verily, that the soul is a sign of God, a heavenly gem whose reality the most learned of men hath failed to grasp, and whose mystery no mind, however acute, can ever hope to unravel. It is the first among all created things to declare the excellence of its Creator, the first to recognize His glory, to cleave to His truth, and to bow down in adoration before Him. If it be faithful to God, it will reflect His light, and will, eventually, return unto Him. If it fail, however, in its allegiance to its Creator, it will become a victim to self and passion, and will, in the end, sink in their depths.”
Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Author: Bahá’u’lláh, Source: US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1990 pocket-size edition, Page: 346

Here’s something from my book
You Carry the Heavy Stuff It’s a writing prompt and written in a particular style. Kurt Vonnegut (God Bless you Kurt Vonnegut) said, write 4 lines across the page every night; don’t show it to anyone, but just do it. These were my 4 one day, and the word soul just showed up, like it wanted to be on the word train within this piece. This is also something under Jack Grapes’ (best writing teacher of all time) teaching in that he calls this type of piece To Be Read and Sung, okay enuf said, 4 lines:

Read and Sung
Do not ask of your shadow’s future. Do not dwell on your shadow’s past. Do not ask what others think. Rely not upon the delusions of the many. Do not turn away from certitude and a multisyllabic path. Do not listen to politicians’ rhetoric. Do not become a sleeping mute, a junk yard dog. Do take yourself and shadow on a dual path. Take a soul to lunch this week. Better yet, take your soul with you. Best yet, be your soul.

NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: Share Quote of the Day with friends.

Jim Nelson passed on last Saturday night, surround by intimate family, and joy. Since then our hearts pulsated for Dorthy Nelson, his wife of over 60 years. They are spiritually humble giants, and I personally think no one in the Baha’i Community took them for granted. We treasured them at evry moment.

Last night was the Baha’i Community’s Feast (Feast of Ala Glory) Lord, it’s late; hope that i have that right. Our chairperson when she introduced consultation, said, “I offer you all condolences,” and I was struck by her sensitivity. Everyone who met Jim loved him. He had a huge, huge spirit, honed from years of perceptions. He had a fine mind, and could say thing in ways none of us were or are able to, and he and Dorothy were incredible together.

Below is a brief passage of life after death concepts.
Tonight we all went to “fireside” which is a gathering people of all ages, skin colors, creeds, heights, weights, gather for inquiry regarding the Baha’i Faith. There must have been 50 people in the room; it glowed, and flowers all around reminded us of his recent passing. A husband and wife spoke, as they had met each other in that very room, some umpteenyears ago, and their 13 year old son wrote a song, and played the guitar, while his 11 year old younger brother sang the lyrics. Our speaker spoke of the soul eloquently and engagingly. Heaven and hell: a Bahá’í view of life after death.

One of our friends played the piano at the end of every evening, but tonight, did it before a social hours

“What song are you going to play, John?”, Dorothy asked

John, his hands already on the keys, said, “For Me and My Gal.” and the timing and the serendipity of the title of the song was incredible.

what an evening. Tomorrow Jim’s burial will be at the Inglewood Cemetery in Inglewood where many Baha’is are buried. Thornton Chase, the first North America Baha’i is buried there. He died in 1912. No quite sure of exact year, but thin i have it.

As in the world’s other religions, the Bahá’í concept of life after death is deeply integrated into teachings about the nature of the soul and the purpose of this earthly life.

Bahá’u’lláh confirmed the existence of a separate, rational soul for every human. In this life, He said, the soul is related to the physical body. It provides the underlying animation for the body and is our real self.

Although undetectable by physical instruments, the soul shows itself through the qualities of character that we associate with each person. The soul is the focal point for love and compassion, for faith and courage, and for other such “human” qualities that cannot be explained solely by thinking of a human being as an animal or as a sophisticated organic machine.

The soul does not die; it endures everlastingly. When the human body dies, the soul is freed from ties with the physical body and the surrounding physical world and begins its progress through the spiritual world. Bahá’ís understand the spiritual world to be a timeless and placeless extension of our own universe–and not some physically remote or removed place.

Entry into the next life has the potential to bring great joy. Bahá’u’lláh likened death to the process of birth. He explains: “The world beyond is as different from this world as this world is different from that of the child while still in the womb of its mother.”

The analogy to the womb in many ways summarizes the Bahá’í view of earthly existence. Just as the womb constitutes an important place for a person’s initial physical development, the physical world provides the matrix for the development of the individual soul. Accordingly, Bahá’ís view life as a sort of workshop, where one can develop and perfect those qualities which will be needed in the next life.

“Know thou, of a truth, that if the soul of man hath walked in the ways of God, it will, assuredly return and be gathered to the glory of the Beloved,” Bahá’u’lláh wrote. “By the righteousness of God! It shall attain a station such as no pen can depict, or tongue can describe.”

In the final analysis, heaven can be seen partly as a state of nearness to God; hell is a state of remoteness from God. Each state follows as a natural consequence of individual efforts, or the lack thereof, to develop spiritually. The key to spiritual progress is to follow the path outlined by the Manifestations of God.

Beyond this, the exact nature of the afterlife remains a mystery. “The nature of the soul after death can never be described,” Bahá’u’lláh writes.

Subject: Total Moral Victory in the World’s Worst Prison Today (For Friends, the Public, as well as the Media)

Dearest Family and Friends:

The following is a vivid testimony to the ultimate moral, mental, and spiritual integrity, dignity, and destiny of the Baha’is and indeed of the entire human race:

Ever since the most unjust and undignified imprisonment some three years ago, without a single crime, of the most innocent, the pure, and the saintly Baha’i Leaders in Iran called Yaran, and their subsequent transfer from the Evin Prison to the most backward and unusually harsh prison of Rajaei Shahr where some 5000 topmost killers, drug dealers, and others are kept in clusters under sub-human conditions, despite the lack of food, toilet, sanitation, and basic subsistence conditions, despite the dirt, filth, and illness, in pitiful conditions themselves, the two saint Baha’i ladies Mahvash and Fariba, as with the other five in the men’s quarters, have by the power of their Faith managed to support and uplift the minds and hearts of their fellow pitiful prisoners by giving them their relentless and genuine loving support to the poorer, the more needy, and the more frail fellow prisoners, seeing no evil in any soul, finding and nurturing dignity even in such a man-forsaken hell, and by such genuine constant manifestations of loving kindness, tact, and wisdom, they have now won, as a testimony to human moral triumph, the hearts and minds and the respect of the entire company of these same so-called “criminal” fellow prisoners, despite the moribond conditions and with all forms of dangers to their own very lives!

Over the months, whenever by token of the only good modern-day miracle of cell phone in the prison yard it was made possible for me to hear several times from Fariba herself, and on the one and only occasion when I got the chance and was so blessed by Divine Destiny to visit the two most precious ladies from behind their prison cabins two months ago for one hour myself, as well as from other family members and even directly from prison guard, I heard myself how miraculously the dangerous killers and criminals had been overwhelmingly moved and transformed by the vivifying souls of these two saintly Ladies.

One can recall the moving poem by Mahvash which shook the world, who, amidst the extreme pains of her own, backed against the withered single pomegranate tree in the prison yard, contemplates how the entire burden of these soul-and-body tortured fellow prisoners and indeed all the down-trodden suffering women of the World are now on her shoulder.

I am still amazed how for the entire three years during the rare occasions she could talk on the phone at various times, I never heard Fariba’s voice even once tremble slightly except for joy, with full faith, complete optimism, and total jubilation, as if walking in the highest Paradise all these long suffering days and months and years.

I still recall the moving sharing lessons of Fariba relaying to me how she had found the single remaining hidden spot of beauty and purity in each and all of these worldly despised and abandoned souls. I remember when she described to me the miracle account of how the most feared gang leader of the prison mafia, despite the huge body, knife-cut and broken face and other fearsome features, shun by all other killers and criminals, had been so moved by our twin spiritual heronies over time that she had on one occasion when Fariba had to pass a toilet dirt mud which had become watery sludge after rain, with their prison-customary slippers, she saw Fariba from far and told her from the distance “Please wait, please wait, may your holy feet not be touched and smeared by these dirts”, then, throwing her own slippers bode and insisted Fariba to kindly step on her slippers and pass by the place lest she be mired. No such things happen in any deadly criminal prison anywhere in the world, specially not in any place similar to this Rajaei Shahar, where only for the mere sake of prolonging an already issued death sentence with formalities paperwork procedures, often the killer kills one more unfortunate and helpless person often at random in the prison, days prior to the execution.

I remember how once Fariba was so overjoyed to tell me how one of her friends, where a few had died mercilessly by swine flu and cast and treated like swines by prison authorities, had first completely given up strong drug addiction, only to replace it with super heavy cigarette addiction, then, by the loving care of our two Baha’i Ladies, day by day she had been reducing smooking to the last one cigarette per day. Fariba told me how that day, just a month ago, Fariba hugged that lady, and rather than insisting or requesting her to give up the final cigarette, only told here gently how much she loved her and was proud of her who despite her years of bad luck in life turning her into a despised criminal, she had obtained the positive hope, the will power, and the supreme determination to accomplish what so many others in the free world had failed to succeed despite all facilities, toos, and support. Fariba told me how the lady, now a close friend, immediately threw to the ground the last final cigarette, crushed it with her heels, and, cried and said: Today I finally give up this addiction for the sake of love of you, as I feel and know that some day I shall visit you in your home and tell you and show you the effect of the loving transformation you have affected and created in me and our many other fellow prison mates!

This is how a candle can shine like the torch, nay as the mid-day Sun, in the darkness of desolation, pessimism and hopelessness, and selfishness that has overshadowed the human society.

Now, I just spoke to Fariba few hours ago on the phone who called from the Rajaei Shahr Prison.

For your information, as the latest news, by tomorrow the two most precious angelic ladies, and the crowning pride of future human civilization will be transferred to the worst section of the Prison entitled “The Under-Ground Dungeon for the Worst of the Villains and Criminals”.

This latest panic move by a remorsely helpless oppressor signifies an entirely unparalled scenario in the World History ever, even up to the present date; that is, for the holy and saintly riligious prisoners of conscience to be once more exiled within the prison, one more tier down from the already terrible exiled Prison allocated for the worst of criminals, killers, and drug addicts to the lower degree underground dungeon for the most dangerous criminals amongst them, just becasue these two already grossly-wronged innocent Saint Lady Prisoners, while in the prison under sub-human conditions, have by their shear Faith and their most pure love and consistent un-conditional tireless and selfless caring actions have transformed the prison-hell into a moral and spiritual Paradise, by moving the souls, changing the hearts, educating the minds and rectifying the conducts of the worst criminals, killers, and drug addicts to such a degree as to empower on the one hand many to give up their severe drug addictions simply on their own free will and by natural encouragement they so lovingly received rather than by persuation and without the need to appeal to any medicine or doctors or tools, or force while against all odds in such deprived hell-prison, and on the other hand enable most others to repent and wash their hands and hearts away from all crimes, purely through the power of real love and by the intense natural free persuation of mind and transformation of heart solely affected via the dynamic power of example of the Twin Tahirih’s of the Time!

Fariba said today on the phone that despite the repeated public prison loudspeaker announcements and stern warnings for all prisoners to stay and shun away, and do not associate with the Baha’i prisoners, groups upon groups of prison ladies thronged and gathered around their cell these past three days, with tearful eyes and warm hugging arms and in a unified supreme array of moral support and expressions of reciprocal love and as spontaneous sign of total unified allegience by all prisoners to the Two Saint Ladies whom they have grown to know as Angels from Heaven stationed in this human hell of a notoriously fanatic and repressive unhumane and dark Regime. Even in the oppressors, the Baha’is see light and apply the transforming and healing power of Baha’ullah’s Revelation which is the Most Great Elixir to ultimately
apply the unifying panacea to the ailing body of the World of humanity and finally affect the evolutionary transformation by God’s Will to the entirety of humankind.

“God hath, likewise, as a bounty from His presence, abolished the concept of “uncleanness”, whereby divers things and peoples have been held to be impure. He, of a certainty, is the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Generous. Verily, all created things were immersed in the sea of purification when, on that first day of Ridván, We shed upon the whole of creation the splendours of Our most excellent Names and Our most exalted Attributes. This, verily, is a token of My loving providence, which hath encompassed all the worlds. Consort ye then with the followers of all religions, and proclaim ye the Cause of your Lord, the Most Compassionate; this is the very crown of deeds, if ye be of them who understand.” Baha’u’llah; Aqdas #75

Just hours ago, Fariba in most happy tone of voice told me that one of the miracles of the Supreme Manifestation of God, Baha’u’llah, is that to the degree He gives His loved ones sufferings for the sake of the mental and moral and spiritual education and upliftment of humanity in this dark age of the transition to the collective maturity of the entire human race, to a multiple degree of that He also bestows upon them true felicity, joy, and jubilation; and that how truly happy she is that she is going down to the underground dungeon, with no fear nor a bit concern for imminent interrogations and torture.

This, reminded me vividly of her hand-written letter to me some thirty years back, in 1982 or 1983, posted from Babolsar to Boston, when our dearly beloved martyrs had just ascended to the Abha Kingdom, how she wished to be like the example of the root of the Cause of God, that Divine Tree which is neither of the East nor of the West, whose roots are firm in the earth (dark, cold, wet, lowly soil of the earth as she described), so that its branches and fruits, us, the Baha’is and all the people of good will in the outside world, can overshadow and benefit the entire human kind. Surely that Divine Tree is growing to overshadow the entire human race, now that the roots are going deeprer inside the darkness of human soul in order to bring and apply the world-wide healing remedy of Baha’u’llah.

What a sublime drama in the human history!

Speechless in awe and admiration, I remain.

Ya Baha’u’l – Abha!
(Oh Thou The Most Glorious Glory!)

(name deleted for safety purposes)

To my beloved friends worldwide, please pray for these noble souls. Gratitude, immense gratitude. Love to All, Esther

Baha’i World News Service to me
show details 2:24 AM (6 hours ago)

Grave concern for safety of Iran’s imprisoned Baha’i leaders

NEW YORK, 15 February 2011 (BWNS) – Iran’s seven imprisoned Baha’i leaders have been transferred to more brutal sections of their prison complex.

In the case of the two Baha’i women, the circumstances of the move have raised concerns that it may have been orchestrated as a means of creating an insecure environment that threatens their lives.

The Baha’i International Community has learned that one of them – Fariba Kamalabadi – has already been physically threatened by inmates since being sent to the notorious Section 200 of Gohardasht Prison.

“Apparently, the atmosphere is highly charged in this section, and there is a great deal of tension and animosity among the inmates,” said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations.

Mrs. Kamalabadi was transferred to Section 200 on Saturday 12 February, along with Mahvash Sabet.

“It is difficult to be certain about the reason for the move,” said Ms. Dugal. “However we believe that, since their arrival at Gohardasht, the Baha’i women – despite their own extremely challenging situation – have nonetheless been a constant source of comfort and hope to other inmates. The prison authorities apparently became alarmed that the two women began to receive signs of respect from a growing number of prisoners. As a justification for the increased harsh treatment, the authorities accused the two of teaching the Baha’i Faith.”

Throughout their entire imprisonment, added Ms. Dugal, the two women have conducted themselves in a spirit of service to others. In early 2009, for example, they shared a cell at Evin prison with Iranian-Japanese-American journalist Roxana Saberi, who later wrote that they had helped her through her ordeal.

Last week, a general announcement was made to all prisoners that they were not to have any contact with the two Baha’i women. Undeterred, however, fellow inmates continued to seek them out.

“After the women were transferred, a number of prisoners made their way downstairs to visit them in their new quarters, despite efforts by the guards to restrain them,” said Ms. Dugal.

Mrs. Kamalabadi and Mrs. Sabet were told that – prior to the move – the inmates in Section 200 had been “warned” about them, she said.

Harsh and unsanitary conditions

The seven Baha’i leaders were sent to Gohardasht prison, 20 kilometers west of Tehran, in August last year. Having previously been incarcerated in Tehran’s Evin prison without charge for 20 months, they were accused of espionage and the establishment of an illegal administration among other allegations. All the charges were denied. After a brief trial, they were sentenced to 10 years in prison.

While Gohardasht is infamous for its harsh and unsanitary conditions, the Baha’i prisoners were at first kept segregated from some of the more violent elements at the complex. They also had relatively frequent access to outdoor exercise areas.

But over the past few weeks, all seven of them have been moved from the quarters they originally occupied into sections where conditions are much worse.

The five men were transferred three weeks ago to a wing set aside for political prisoners, known as Section 4, which is more crowded and reportedly under close surveillance. They are now suffering severe physical deprivations.

“Three of them are together in one cell, with the other two sharing another cell,” said Ms. Dugal. “There are two beds in each cell, so one of them has to sleep on the floor.”

“The inmates in this part of the prison are able to go outside for fresh air only at designated times, whereas previously they could do so whenever they wished,” said Ms. Dugal.

Appeal to governments

“In our open letter of 7 December 2010 to the head of Iran’s judiciary, we stressed that such an odious and degrading environment is unworthy of even the most dangerous criminals,” said Ms. Dugal.

“We say to the Iranian government once again – does it believe the principles of Islamic compassion and justice to be consistent with the imposition of such conditions on innocent citizens?”

“We continue to call upon governments and people of good-will throughout the world to take whatever action they can to impress upon the Iranian government that its actions are being watched, and that it will be held responsible for the safety of these and the more than 50 other Baha’is who are imprisoned throughout Iran,” said Ms. Dugal.

http://media.causes.com/1005500

I humbly suggest if this concerns you, not to react with hate or anger towards anyone, but to find Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, and go to page 285, and Paragraph CXXX. “Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generaton, a fruit upon the tree of humility.”

thank you, esther

The best writing teacher you'll ever want to meet

Jack Grapes -fantastic writer, teacher of poetic souls, and lovely man

Help, I lost a few days. Last I knew it was the 11th and then this morning, I called out to Bill, “What day is it”? He replied, “the 13th.” I read from the most incredible daily reader of the Baha’is Writings, published in London and out of print, and it is heavenly and unique and the fragrances of same float around my heart. Baha’is are encouraged to read from the Writings in the morning and the evening, and of course, we say what prayers resonate with us. There is a requirement of an Obligatory Prayer, and there are 3 choices. The following is the noonday prayer:

I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee. I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth.

There is none other God but Thee, the help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.
Baha’u’llah

I wake up in the morning, and the first thing that flies to my mind is “I have wakened in Thy shelter, O my God, and it becometh him that seeketh that shelter to abide within the Sanctuary of Thy protection and the Stronghold of Thy defense. Illumine my inner being, O my Lord, with the splendors of the Dayspring of Thy Revelation, even as Thou didst illumine my outer being with the morning light of thy favor.”. Baha’u’llah

You know this blog started out about losing a few days; all of which have been action packed, insightful, wonderful connection with people, but here I sit, it is 1.25, and I should walk. I haven’t even taken my morning meds. I may take a nap instead. Hard to be wise with my body.

Last night in Pasadena, at the Judges Nelson’s home, Navid Dheghani spoke. He’s a scientist and one of the people who work on the Mars is it Rover? the machine that lands on Mars, and all. Last night he gave a wonderful presentation of an overall view of the Baha’i Faith, and then in the question and answer times, talked about science a bit. A funny, modest, humble, and knowledgeable man. It was great.

I have several books to read: Mudbound. Read it once; it’s terrific and it’s Pasadena’s One City, One Book read; a friend wants me to participate in my favorite library, La Pintoresca, so I will re-read it, and our book club which has been meeting for at least five years is reading it for February. Then, we are reading The Long Walk, now made into a film; the author’s name is a Polish one, and I lent my copy of the book out.

Years ago, late 1960s I discovered this book, and it made such an impact upon me. I notice it’s been republished, and one of the blurbs on the front cover describe it aptly as “Homeric,” and I would say yes. The story of this man; his survival; the group he is with, their connection and unity with each other, remains nested within my memory bank; hopefully forever; and surely along with An Interrupted Life by Etty Hillesum and her Letters from Westerbork.

Why is it I am so drawn to memoir? I think I have always been fascinated with man’s inhumanity to man, and man’s humanity to man. My first pilgrimage, trip to Israel, visiting Christian and Jewish holy places and then to Haifa, to the Baha’i Shrines, I felt the themes of this ribboning through the country as I witnessed the Holocaust memorial.

The Baha’is believe in all the religions and consider religious truth to be like an unfolding scroll, relative to the day and age, but God, an unknowable Essence, is absolute. Spiritual truth is spiritual truth and is not obsolete. It is revealed with each Messenger in a different manner, much like if you looked around you and saw lights or lamps of different kinds, you would see the light source is the same, but the vehicle holding the light is different, and then the social teachings are changed to meet the needs of the day. All of the Messengers of God, Prophets, or what we in the Baha’i Faith call Manifestations occupy the same high, mystical, incredible level, an abstract level of unity really which we as puny souls can hardly imagine. We need these Divine Luminaries, these Educators of Mankind, these Divine Physicians of the Age.

At any rate i read voraciously and read a lot of books by Buddhists, Jewish, Islamic writers. And of course all memoir. I think we are in such an age of transition that people must speak out and record their truths. I often think of a kaleidescope as an image; are we not all chips of different colors – moving, shaping, but connected? I would like to think so.

Wow I can’t believe i’m going on like this, but so be it.

I had a writing workshop Monday evening, at Ten Thousand Villages, which is an awesome and aesthetically pleasing experience. They feature artifax, jewely, vases, cloth, you name it, from around the world, made by villagers who support themselves by their creations. I am st up in the basement, and it is a long white walled room, and somehow we did it: 2 tables, some folding chairs around, and I set up a whiteboard talking about showing versus telling in writing. I spoke about Oakley Hall and Jack Grapes, two of my writing heroes and teachers, and 17 people of all manner came, and we had a blast. We cooked as I like to say. then the next day i taught my usual writing workshop at the Women’s Room, a haven for homeless women, and women in transition, and they (the clients) and the volunteers can participate in writing. They have done soooo well, and we are family. What a group.

So now, I’m going to close after this unexpected tell it like it is, blog, and take a nap. Bill’s daughter, Tory, coming up for a vist. Did I mentioln, the day is utterly gorgeous, sun, breeze, temp of about 71 degrees by our little pool house.

One more thing; i liked President Obama’s talk; my heart twisted, particuarly gazing at the father’s face of the wonderful little 9 year old girl; I hope this even brings about more civility and unity. If we had children, would we let our kids squabble so divisively in a family?

High regards to all who read this.


Just read 2 books: I’m with Fatty, Edward Ugel, which is funny, honest, grave, gets to the marrow of addiction, and yet his writing is whimsical, serious, and good. Then i picked up down among the Dead, a year in the life of a mortuary technician, Michelle Williams; which I found to be a good tell it like it is fascinating read.

Busy day, no walking, but some yoga, start a new class Monday, so material all over our small living which I love for its high ceilings. One has the illusion of space. Big event tomorrow, friend Chiara getting married, and another friend Renee and I are witnesses. She’s having a Baha’i ceremony, and then we go off to a small dinner. I’m really happy for her. Haven’t met her beloved, but tomorrow it is.

don’t have a lot to say other than I’m trying to be organized, connect with usual gang of 500 thru internet or locally, and walk, and hang with Bill, my husband and pal of 25 years. Good news is he says he feels strong in the mornings, so now he’ll work on afternoons too, and then night time.

I’m dying to see a bunch of films, but no time; submitted two pieces of poetry to Altadena for contest; the lady liked them, went to a friends ESL class, and boy is she vibrant and loving. i think teaching people ESL is an incredible gift; i have a certificate, but i do better at teaching creative writing. There’s a purity and a vulnerability in learning a new language, and somehow each student is dearly pure and there’s always a lot of love and laughter in the classes.

Okay, nothing to say; trying not to watch the yackedy yackedy of meanness politically; went to fabulous Baha’i fireside at the Nelsons; friend Tadia spoke, fascinating and wonderful as always. I notice for a writer I am using very general worlds but at least i haven’t said well, it was like, it was like a fireside, where we talked about like…

I’m crashing; hope i can squeeze walk in tomorrow; have book club that night; we have read Little Bee and Ape House, but I didn’t get Ape House, i’m still in a queue for it.

hugs to all.

A minister friend sent this to me; thank goodness people are writing about this.

To: sightings@lists.uchicago.edu
Subject: *Sightings* 1/6/2011 – Iran’s Baha’i Minority Suffers Increasing Persecution

Sightings 1/6/2011

Iran’s Baha’i Minority Suffers Increasing Persecution
– Elise Auerbach

Seven leaders of Iran’s Baha’i community were sentenced to twenty years in prison by a Revolutionary Court in Tehran last August, a sentence that was reduced to ten years in September. They were convicted on serious but baseless charges including “espionage for Israel,” “insulting religious sanctities” and “propaganda against the system.” They had also been charged with ifsad fil arz or “corruption on earth.” These charges could have resulted in death sentences. The seven leaders were convicted after a trial that failed to adhere to international standards for fair trials.
The Baha’i faith was founded in Iran about 150 years ago. An estimated 300,000 Baha’is still live in Iran; they are Iran’s largest non-Muslim religious minority. Although Baha’is had faced persecution in Iran since the founding of the religion, their treatment grew worse after the Iranian Revolution. Since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in Iran, the Baha’i community has faced systematic persecution and harassment. While other minority religions such as Judaism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity are officially recognized (adherents of those religions having been deemed “People of the Book”), the Baha’i religion is not recognized in Iran’s Constitution and Baha’is are denied equal rights to education, employment and advancement in their jobs. Furthermore, they are not allowed to meet or hold religious ceremonies.

Worse forms of persecution have been committed against Iran’s Baha’i: More than 200 Baha’is were killed after the Iranian Revolution in 1979, after which a large number of Baha’is left Iran. The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Iran was disbanded in 1983 after the government outlawed all Baha’i administrative institutions. Since then the community’s needs have been met by the Yaran, or Friends, who are now responsible for the Baha’i community’s religious and administrative affairs.

Although persecution of the Baha’is abated in the 1990s, harassment has increased since President Ahmadinejad’s first election in 2005. According to the Baha’i International Community, there are currently 47 Baha’is in detention throughout Iran.

The Baha’i faith is considered heresy by hard-line clerics since it was founded in the mid-nineteenth century. Because it post-dates Islam, it is viewed as a repudiation of Islam. After the Iranian Revolution a “pure” form of Islamic government was established with the support of conservative clerics, which involved discrimination against adherents of more recently founded religions such as Baha’is. The clerics implemented punishments such as stoning and amputation. This theological “purity” is maintained by clerical hard-liners who are crucial allies of the current government.

The Baha’is are convenient scapegoats—the government points to the Baha’is as fomenting the post-election unrest. The Iranian authorities have also blamed the Baha’is, among other groups, for orchestrating much of the unrest that took place on the Shi’a religious observance of ‘Ashoura on 27 December 2009.

The religiously fraught charge of ifsad fil arz has been specifically used against the Baha’is, but another charge, moharebeh, or enmity against God, has been lodged at more and more people in the past year. It has been used to justify imposition of the death penalty for politically motivated “offenses.” Although it should only be used in cases where there is evidence of armed resistance against the government, the charge of moharebeh has been used against ethnic and linguistic minorities who advocate for greater cultural rights or who are otherwise politically active.

The persecution of Iran’s Baha’is—and specifically the harsh sentences imposed on the seven Yaran—has been roundly criticized by prominent figures the world over, including the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. His report of October 14, 2010 noted that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed deep concern over the absence of international observers and the lack of due process in the Baha’i leaders’ trial and that the criminal charges brought against the seven appeared to constitute a violation of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in particular those of freedom of religion and belief and freedom of expression and association. Despite the international condemnation, the Iranian authorities remain obdurate. In February a high-level delegation, led by Mohammad Javad Larijani, the Secretary-General of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights, defended Iran’s human rights record before the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva. Mr. Larijani insisted that no Baha’i is persecuted because of his or her Baha’i faith, but rather because of their engagement in illegal activities—completely evading the issue that perfectly legitimate activities or beliefs are construed as “illegal,” that the evidence for such “illegal” activities is generally non-existent, and that the legal procedures that try and convict people on such charges are woefully inadequate.

Elise Auerbach is the Iran country specialist for Amnesty International USA. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago.

———-

Sightings comes from the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Submissions policy

Sightings welcomes submissions of 500 to 750 words in length that seek to illuminate and interpret the intersections of religion and politics, art, science, business and education. Previous columns give a good indication of the topical range and tone for acceptable essays. The editor also encourages new approaches to current issues and events.

Attribution

Columns may be quoted or republished in full, with attribution to the author of the column, Sightings, and the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Contact information

Please send all inquiries, comments, and submissions to Shatha Almutawa, managing editor of Sightings, at DivSightings@gmail.com. Subscribe, unsubscribe, or manage your subscription at the Sightings subscription page. Too many emails? Receive Sightings as an RSS feed. Sign up at http://divinity.uchicago.edu/rss/sightings.xml.

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Our January is grey at the moment, and cold, well California cold, but Bill and I are over our colds, and i am back walking (moving the muscles after 8 days of sniff, sniff, cough, cough). Friend came by and we hoofed down a hill, across a long residential street, picture perfect, winding street, green lawns, trees arching over the street, and me with my coughdrops but no inhaler, hoofed and trudged up another hill, and then she took me for coffee and an Einstein Bros. power bagel.

I am catching up; we live in 2 room pool house, and our sliding glass door sounds like there’s a crocidile stuck in a moat, and the door bumps and bumps and jerks. I am blogging again, tra lee, tra la, and am getting new writing workshop together; 6 weeks at Ten Thousand Villages; a great fair trade store, with artifax, jewelry and stuff from all around the world. It truly feels like a spiritual place, and I think it has to be because it’s based on the Oneness of Mankind, and one feels the connection immensely.

My nephew and his wife are having a baby, and it’s a girl, and they are naming her Elizabeth, which is his mom’s – and my twin’s name, and I love it to pieces. We were known as Es and Bess when we were little, and I always called her Liz, and we sort of are polar opposites, except with the same linguistic twang and mannerisms. She’s more like my father, and I’m more like my mother, but I can tell you we always looked out for one another. I am grateful that on her death bed she turned to me and said, “I never realized, but you’ve always been there for me,” this from a twin who was often disappointed in my Faith’s beliefs, my political views, my inclusive view of life. But still we managed. Last night I had a dream, because she died about 3-4 years ago, that we are okay between one another, and I like that. The first and second year she was sick; she’d cry out at 5.30 in the morning for help, and i’d jump through the ceiling in a dash to her room.

Tomorrow, I get my hair cut. Had it so short this summer, most people liked it except for a dear Persian lady in my community who said, “I hate it,” and I laughed. I wait for months and months, and then some random day I take whatever scissor are near me, and hack at my hair over a small bathroom sink, and then sashay out to people’s comments, “Looks good.” then comes the dread day when my head, look and hair take on an attacked by the North Wind, the West Wind, East and south, War of the Winds, and my poor hair which is with me while my body gets older, just has a hissy and stands up, lays down, and in a way doesn’t play well with the rest of me.

So tomorrow i shall be shorn. Saturday a friend and I are witnesses at a Baha’i wedding, and all involved are excited.

That’s about it for now, move the muscles, drink water, and stay wonderful.

<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8098685-forces-of-our-time” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”Forces of Our Time: The Dynamics of Light and Darkness” border=”0″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51SRUk8vHbL._SX106_.jpg” /></a><a href=”Forces” _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8098685-forces-of-our-time”>Forces”>http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8098685-forces-of-our-time”>Forces of Our Time: The Dynamics of Light and Darkness</a> by <a href=”Hooper” _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2975096.Hooper_C_Dunbar”>Hooper”>http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2975096.Hooper_C_Dunbar”>Hooper C. Dunbar</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”5″ _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/133887663″>5″>http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/133887663″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
This book is exceedingly profound.  It speaks in highly readable and gracious prose, of the condition of the world today, and the dramatic changes taking place.  He addresses the visible deterioration in so many fundamental processes and instittions (financial, political and climage change and energy, and social fabric of society.  He gives his readers an enlivening clear upsurge in knowledge, reflects concern for human rights and speaks of gtechnologies that bring people together.  From the back of the book, “These energies are spiritual in nature and result from Mr. Dunbar’s membership and deep commitment to the Baha’i Faith and its founder, Baha’u’llah (a title meaning the Glory of God). Mr. Dunbar shows how processes creating a new divine civilization have arisen, are arising, and he also speaks of the negative forces which have arisen to resist this divine purpose.  He examines the character of the spiritual forces as set out in the writings of the Guardian of the Faith, and the first part of the book considers the terms, ‘force,’ ‘energy’ and ‘power.’  The second part of the book comprises a selection of quotations drawn from the writings of Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Cause and many are published within this volume for the first time and arrnage chronologically so readers may consider the ideas in their original context.
<br/>
<br/>5 stars doesn’t do it, but that as high as the rating would go.
<br/><br/>
<a href=”View” _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2785181-esther-bradley-detally”>View”>http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2785181-esther-bradley-detally”>View all my reviews</a>

<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2316197.Prayer” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”Prayer: A Baha’i Approach” border=”0″ src=”http://www.goodreads.com/images/nocover-111×148.jpg” /></a><a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2316197.Prayer”>Prayer: A Baha’i Approach</a> by <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1041260.William_Hellaby”>William Hellaby</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/122435751″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
profound, and contemplative, and insightful, and perceptions which lead to action shown.  Madeline Hellaby just died, and I fear this book might not be republished.  It’s a must.
<br/><br/>
<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2785181-esther-bradley-detally”>View all my reviews</a>

On the back cover, “To Baha’is, prayer is indispensable:  ‘the core of religious faith,’ writes Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Baha’i faith, ‘is that mystic feeling which unites man with God.  This state of spiritual communion can be brought about and maintained by means of prayer.

Written by William and madline Hellaby, I’m focusing on Madeline, who just passed.  She writes of “prayer as a living reality–prayer as ordinary people experience it in their daily loves.  ‘How can we practise the presence of God?'” she asks.  Describing with honesty, good sense and humour the various obstacles to effective praying, she finds insight in quotations and examples drawn both from the Baha’i Writings and from a wealth of religious literature, history and day-to-day experience.”

PS I use Alibris a lot to find 99 cent issues of books and up.  I like them.

washingtonpost.com
Opinions » Follow Opinions On:
In Iran, shackling the Bahai torchbearers

By Roxana Saberi
Saturday, August 28, 2010

For several weeks last year, I shared a cell in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison with Mahvash Sabet and Fariba Kamalabadi, two leaders of Iran’s minority Bahai faith. I came to see them as my sisters, women whose only crimes were to peacefully practice their religion and resist pressure from their captors to compromise their principles. For this, apparently, they and five male colleagues were sentenced this month to 20 years in prison.

I had heard about Mahvash and Fariba before I met them. Other prisoners spoke of the two middle-aged mothers whose high spirits lifted the morale of fellow inmates.

The Bahai faith, thought to be the largest non-Muslim minority religion in Iran, originated in 19th-century Persia. It is based on the belief that the world will one day attain peace and unity. Iranian authorities consider it a heretical offshoot of Islam.

After I was transferred to their cell, I learned that Mahvash had been incarcerated for one year and Fariba for eight months. Each had spent half her detention in solitary confinement, during which time they were allowed almost no contact with their families and only the Koran to read. Recently the two had been permitted to have a pen. Oh, how they cherished it! But they were allowed to use it only to do Sudoku and crossword puzzles in the conservative newspapers the prison guards occasionally gave them.

Mahvash, Fariba and their five colleagues faced accusations that included spying for Israel, insulting religious sanctities and, later, “spreading corruption on earth.” All three could have resulted in the death penalty.

The Bahais denied these charges. Far from posing a threat to the Islamic regime, Mahvash and Fariba told me, Iran’s estimated 300,000 Bahais are nonviolent and politically impartial.

Despite the gravity of the accusations against them, Mahvash and Fariba had not once been allowed to see attorneys. Yet my cellmates’ spirits would not be broken, and they boosted mine. They taught me to, as they put it, turn challenges into opportunities — to make the most of difficult situations and to grow from adversity. We kept a daily routine, reading the books we were eventually allowed and discussing them; exercising in our small cell; and praying — they in their way, I in mine. They asked me to teach them English and were eager to learn vocabulary for shopping, cooking and traveling. They would use the new words one day, they told me, when they journeyed abroad. But the two women also said they never wanted to live overseas. They felt it their duty to serve not only Bahais but all Iranians.

Later, when I went on a hunger strike, Mahvash and Fariba washed my clothes by hand after I lost my energy and told me stories to keep my mind off my stomach. Their kindness and love gave me sustenance.

It pained me to leave them behind when I was freed in May 2009. I later heard that Mahvash, Fariba and their colleagues refused to make false confessions, as many political prisoners in Iran are pressured to do.

It was January when the Bahais’ trial began. This month, the same Iranian judge who had sentenced me to eight years in prison on a false charge of spying for the United States sentenced the Bahais to 20 years. The charges they were convicted of have not yet been reported.

Human rights advocates have said the trial was riddled with irregularities. The defendants were eventually allowed to see attorneys but only briefly. The lawyers were given only a few hours to examine the thousands of pages in the prosecution’s files. Early in the trial, state-run TV crews were present at what were supposed to be closed hearings. After the Bahais’ attorneys objected, family members were allowed to attend the hearings, but foreign diplomats were barred, and the only journalists permitted were with state-run media. It appears that no evidence was presented against the defendants.

As their lawyers appeal, Mahvash and Fariba sit in Rajai Shahr prison outside Tehran. Even Evin prison, cellmates told me last year, is preferable to Rajai Shahr. The facility is known for torture, unsanitary conditions and inadequate medical care for inmates, who include murderers, drug addicts and thieves.

While Iranian authorities deny that the regime discriminates against citizens for religious beliefs, the Bahai faith is not recognized under the Iranian constitution. The known persecution of many Bahais includes being fired from jobs and denied access to higher education, as well as cemetery desecration. (The Bahais created their own unofficial university, which Mahvash used to direct; Fariba earned a degree in psychology there.) In addition to the seven leaders, 44 other Bahais are in prisons in Iran, the Baha’i International Community reports.

People of many nations and faiths have called for the release of the Bahai leaders. But many more must speak out — such as by signing letters of support through Web sites such as United4Iran.com. Protests of these harsh sentences can make clear to authorities in Iran and elsewhere that they will be held accountable when they trample on human rights. Mahvash and Fariba occasionally hear news of this support, and it gives them strength to carry on, just as the international outcry against my imprisonment empowered me.

I know that despite what they have been through and what lies ahead, these women feel no hatred in their hearts. When I struggled not to despise my interrogators and the judge, Mahvash and Fariba told me they do not hate anyone, not even their captors.

We believe in love and compassion for humanity, they said, even for those who wrong us. Roxana Saberi, a journalist detained in Iran last year, is the author of “Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran.”

Dear One and All in my world.

the recent sentencing of seven imprisoned Baha’i leaders in Iran, impels me to place on my personal blog a request that anyone and everyone who is able or willing to write to the repreentative of their congressional district and to their senators about the unjust sentences of 20 years. We seek humanity’s assistance.

Background information and updates about this situation are available at http://iran.bahai.us and http://news.bahai.org. We, the Baha’is in my area (San Gabriel Valley, California, USA) are enlisting the support of our friends and co-workers, as well as other faith communities and civic organizations, to take whatever actions within their power to shine a spotlight on the Irananian government’s behavior. We respectfully suggest that one should never underestimate the effect their words can have in making the Iranian authorities aware they cannot violate basic standards of international human rights unseen by a watchful world.

For thos who can support this cause, please know that it will bring solace and comfort to the hearts of the long-suffering Iranian Baha’is.

You can find who your senators and congressional representatives are by visiting http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml.

Below is a suggested example of a letter to write to an official. Gratitude to all who care and let us hope some day the oneness of humankind will be a reality and suffering of all the peoples will be a thing of the past.

Dear Senator ___?___/Representative___?___,

The Baha’is of Iran have been subject to religious persecution and
execution for the past thirty years at the hands of the Islamic
Republic regime of Iran. Recently the Islamic Republic court
sentenced seven innocent former Baha’i leaders to twenty years of
imprisonment each – a total of 140 years. These seven innocent
Baha’is have already been in prison for over two years awaiting trial.

The flagrantly unjust sentence has provoked vehement protest from
governments throughout the world – including Australia, Canada,
France, Germany, the Netherlands, the U.K. and the U.S.A. Most
recently, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton issued a
statement condemning the sentence and reaffirming that the American
government has not forgotten the beleaguered Baha’is of Iran. The
following is a link to Clinton’s recent statement:
http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2010/08/145953.htm

I urge you to take whatever actions are within your power to shine a
spotlight on the Iranian government’s gravely unjust behavior. Your
words and actions will have a powerful effect in making the Iranian
authorities aware that they cannot violate basic standards of
international human rights concealed from a watchful world.

Background information and updates about the situation are available
at http://iran.bahai.us and http://news.bahai.org.

Your words of support will bring comfort and solace to the hearts of
the long-suffering Iranian Bahá’ís, the American Baha’i community and
human rights advocates all over the world who keep watch with these
innocent prisoners.

Sincerely,
___?___

Wow, what a weekend. Saturday went to a Cluster Reflection Meeting in Altadena, held in the loveliest of homes; very user friendly to large crowds. Great people, great conversation, basically we Baha’is encourage each other to contribute to humanity’s well being; and that plays out into children’s classes, devotionals, etc. We don’t do this to “make Baha’is,” but just to contribute to the ongoing advancement of the society and the individual, which includes us totally.

Devotionals are usually with lots of writings from other Faith Traditions, music, and then conversation about concepts. we had so many diverse points of view last night at a friends and the food then was luscious. different people who didn’t know each other found they had a lot in common. It was sort of a 6 degrees of separation type of thing.

Today we heard Judge Dorothy Nelson come and give a report; she was our delegate to the Baha’i National Convention. again, such an atmosphere of love and knowledge in the room. Wonderful. Also had great book club meeting; we discussed The Man From Saigon and I can’t remember author’s name. The writing was superb! We all brought something to eat, had brunch, tremendous conversation and divergent views about the book. Everyone liked it; but our points of view naturally differ because of our different lifestyles.

I don’t have a lot to say, but think despite all the heaviness in the world, and the utter crippling acts of some, there are many hearts and souls who work for the well-being of humanity, from all ranks, religions, traditions, and this weekend, there was evidence of this. We truly are one! Have a good week everyone!

Dear Blog Reader,

I tend to publish items about pug dogs, writing classes, stuff I’ve written, other writers, and always quips of book reviews sneak in every now and then. Last year I found my blog had themes of spirituality and pugs, and the pugs were edging ahead. It may very well be this year, thoughts from Baha’i individuals, institutions, artists, and whomever may appear more on these pages.

the world is complex to say the least, and yet a lot of people say about the Baha’is, “They’re always so happy,” and yes, when we get together, there’s a collective joy and renewal from being with friends, like-minded people, community builders from the greater community.

I became a Baha’i about 45 years ago, and outwardly I looked like an airline stewardess and was probably a little lippy too. Underneath tho, I was scared, ruled by underlying anxieties. Transformation came slowly, some patches in my life were incredibly arduous, and I bless every moment. I am at the point where my favorite quote from the Baha’i Writings is, “Nothing save that which profiteth them shall befall My loved ones.” I believe that quote applies to all of humanity, and that we’ve finally achieved the status in the world of a toe step into the circle of Coming of Age. With that in mind, I’d like to humbly offer a paragraph quoted from our recent letter To the Baha’is of the Word, from our international governing body, The Universal House of Justice. It concerns all of us. The message really addresses all of humanity:

“Baha’u’llah’s Revelation is vast. It calls for profound change not only
at the level of the individual but also in the structure of society. “Is not
the object of every Revelation”, He Himself proclaims, “to effect a
transformation in the whole character of mankind, a transformation that shall
manifest itself, both outwardly and inwardly, that shall affect both its inner
life and external conditions?” The work advancing in every corner of the globe
today represents the latest stage of the ongoing Baha’i endeavour to create the
nucleus of the glorious civilization enshrined in His teachings, the building
of which is an enterprise of infinite complexity and scale, one that will
demand centuries of exertion by humanity to bring to fruition. There are no
shortcuts, no formulas. Only as effort is made to draw on insights from His
Revelation, to tap into the accumulating knowledge of the human race, to apply
His teachings intelligently to the life of humanity, and to consult on the
questions that arise will the necessary learning occur and capacity be
developed.”

Stay wonderful…..esther

  • The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this:
    >
    > A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him … a
    > touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy
    > is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is
    > death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering
    > necessity to create, create, create — so that without the creating
    > of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his
    > very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out
    > creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really
    > alive unless he is creating. ~ Pearl S. Buck, novelist, Nobel
    > laureate (1892-1973)

 

When I was a young girl, I discovered Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth, and then I went on to read all of her books.  Since an early age, I read everything an author says.  Last week or so her name came up, and I forget the context, but I discovered Anchee Min’s latest book is about Pearl – a fiction book.  Some critics say not as good as Anchee Min’s previous books which are cliffhangers, but anything she writes I read, and I was so glad to.  It sounded so accurate.

At any rate, I think Pearl Buck probably changed or added immensely to my life as I think we are hungry for other lives, insights, and in essence, we feel as if we are that person – oneness through literature.

A few years ago, a friend said in an email, “This is you,” and then the above quote was imbedded in my email.  I felt an immense relief.  I am in the last chapters with much creativity and contributions ahead, but I remember my younger days of emotional pain, of therapy, tests, struggles, now knowing who I really was.

I think we all go through that forming journey; the who am I, and in our later years, we are answered, and think, “aah that’s it.”  At any rate, I used to cringe that I was so sensitive.  I wished I simply could not feel as much.  People talked about getting in touch with their feelings, and I was trying to stifle them; they were too much.

Still time and writing, and a spiritual path, mine being the Baha’i Faith, where I firmly believe we walk the mystical path with practical feet, a path which has carved me out in order that love for others may fill me, a path of constant change.  I no longer experience that twisting pain of feeling as if inwardly I felt my heart was a bruised peach pit; I have gained insights, clarity, a voice, more laughter, and it’s all a dance in one way.  Still I cannot tell you how solaced and how solaced I still am by this quote of Pearl Buck’s.  It gives relief to the DNA which is standing still thinking will epigenetics reveals its stamp.  Luckily it has, but I know so little.

It’s exciting to have experienced a lot, learned a lot, and still always on the edge of knowing and learning; I sense epigenetics is one of my next themes.

I discovered  this wonderful young lady by trotting thru Facebook today, and a friend had posted her site:

http://www.kickstarter.com/e/fjl0c/projects/brina/reggae-singer-brina-needs-to-mix-and-release-her-d

All I can say, is try it, you’ll like it, and I hope she makes her deadline!

“How numerous are those peoples of divers beliefs, of conflicting creeds, and opposing temperaments, who, through the reviving fragrance of the Divine springtime, breathing from the Ridvan of God, have been arrayed with the new robe of divine Unity, and have drunk from the cup of His singleness!

This is the significance of the well-known words:  ‘The wolf and the lamb shall feed together.’    Baha’u’llah (Gleanings)

Morning reading, Jalal 14 (Glory-14th day of April – Second day of Ridvan

“Meditate on what the poet hath written: ‘Wonder not, if my Best-Beloved be closer to me than mine own self; wonder at this, that I, despite such nearness, should still be so far from Him.’  ”

                                                          Baha’u’llah (Gleanings, p. 184)

The Festival of Ridvan — the most sacred Baha’i holiday

http://www.bahai.us/

The Festival of Ridvan (Riz-wahn), celebrated from April 21 to May 2, commemorates the anniversary of Baha’u’llah’s declaration in 1863 that He was the Promised One of all earlier religions.

The Ridvan period is bittersweet, as Baha’u’llah was soon to be exiled to Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey). Baha’u’llah spent 12 days in a garden in Baghdad visiting with His followers. He named the garden Ridvan, which means “Paradise” or “good pleasure” in Arabic.

The Most Great Festival is, indeed, the King of Festivals. Call ye to mind, O people, the bounty which God hath conferred upon you. Ye were sunk in slumber, and lo! He aroused you by the reviving breezes of His Revelation, and made known unto you His manifest and undeviating Path. — Baha’u’llah

When He entered the garden, Baha’u’llah proclaimed the Festival of Ridvan and made three announcements: First, He forbade His followers to fight to advance or defend the Faith (religious war had been permitted under past religions); second, He declared there would not be another prophet for another 1,000 years; and third, He proclaimed that all the names of God were inherent in all things at that moment.

Baha’u’llah’s arrival in Ridvan and his announcement of the Festival of Ridvan mark the moment when the essence of the Baha’i Faith was expressed.

Baha’is suspend work on the holiest days of Ridvan—the first, ninth and 12th . These mark the day of Baha’u’llah’s arrival in the garden, the arrival of His family and the group’s departure for Constantinople.

Throughout Ridvan, Baha’is gather for devotions and attend social gatherings. In Texas, Perry Productions has been staging a Ridvan pageant for the last 10 years. 

At Ridvan, Baha’is annually elect members of local and national administrative bodies, called Spiritual Assemblies. Baha’u’llah taught that in an age of universal education, there was no longer a need for a special class of clergy. Instead, he provided a framework for administering the affairs of the Faith through a system of elected councils at the local, national and international levels. All Baha’i elections occur through secret ballot and plurality vote, without candidacies, nominations or campaigning.

Two weeks ago, Bill, my husband, had to go from Huntington Hospital in Pasadena to Baldwin Park to kaiser Hospital, so a neuro guy could double check him just in case he need to be trundled into a hospital bed.

He didn’t; he stabilized, and he said it was a 20 minute ride. The ambulance bill: $1400 – 20 minute ride, tho two qualified attendants, one who drove. We didn’t have to pay.

I’ve been reading, walking and writing. I had a huge list of want to read books, and today How to Sew a Button along with Alice I Have been, Finding Nouf, and they sit alongside a book Revelation and social Reality, Learning to Translate what is Written into Reality (a profound book).

So I push aside my Pug Calendar, work on a student’s essay, check my emails for news from one of my 400 cronies, and on Facebook, note with absolute joy of erica’s wedding. Incredible lady. You don’t need to know.

today started out slow, and i had blood test; blood too thick; oh dear, too many veggies; i hate being on Coumadin, no choice. Library and meeting at noon; wonderful gathering, profound and dear people, walked home – 2 miles; don’t push for the third Esther, you drive yourself.

Yaran 7, Baha’is imprisoned in Evin Prison had hearing today; blocked, not allowed families; three years now; how long must this go on.

Reply |Baha’i World News Service to me
show details 2:23 AM (6 hours ago)

Next trial session in Iran for seven Baha’is set for tomorrow

GENEVA, 9 April (BWNS) – A third session of the court proceedings against seven imprisoned Iranian Baha’i leaders is scheduled for tomorrow in Tehran.

It is unknown whether the hearing – scheduled in Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court – will be open to families of the defendants and other observers. The first two sessions were closed.

The seven defendants, who have been imprisoned for two years, were responsible for tending to the spiritual and social needs of Iran’s 300,000 Baha’is.

In January of this year they were finally presented with formal charges, which include espionage and “corruption on earth” – accusations that they categorically deny.

For more information, see recent news stories http://news.bahai.org/story/760 and http://news.bahai.org/story/759. For further background and photographs, see http://news.bahai.org/human-rights/iran/iran-update/

http://pilipilisakasakadiaries.wordpress.com

read this dear ones and weep – but with stomping feet and yahoos to the sky. this is a fabulous blog. pilipilisakas’s writng is like butter on a hot black skillet. mmmmm hmmmmmm!

okay back to me. I’ts only almost noon and i’m still at the Pewter replying to blogs, email, facebook.

Today, this morning, old shirt, blinking eyes, fingers that run across the keyboard like the sound of French poodles in a hurry clicking their toes towards food bowls, these are my electric hours. Life is electric and i’ll list a few things at the end so you catch my drift. Drift dear reader; drift is important.

Today is exhaustion day big time. Was surprised. Went to cardio guy yesterday; and he’s now Bill’s Cardio guy too; very funny, dry wit, sardonic. While Bill was getting his blood pressure taken (read abnormally high) (read, situational) I was standing in the hallway, and I felt as if I were going to pass out. I never feel that way there. we were more nervous of Bill’s test results than we realized.

He’s got a hardening aortic valve, but doesn’t have to have surgery, like I did and he won’t. I lived and that’s good depending on who is saying it. smile.
They’ll watch him, and give him ultrasound in 6 months.
A friend writes, “Can they soften the valve”?

We both felt as if a steamroller decided not to bury us in mud! Wow.
Big, I guess one could say.

So day in honor of big,I’ll laundry list the “bigs” in my life.

Bill’s heart not too bad or heart valve
Reading pilisaka’s blog
Watching on You Tube _Devotional – Baha’i
Finding out the red light, third one in on the blinking model if you really want to know, is the result of perhaps a patchy connection to be replaced easily by trip to Best or Radio Shack.
Fireside (Baha’i chats) at Nelson’s last night. Steve and Juliana Licata and their two heavenly sons; music, entertainment; incredible talk
Meeting a new person; a muscian who heard of Baha’is on the net and from his spiritual leader who said, “Go.”
My walking an hour a day – El Moleno, a nice hill if you like puffing, but the way back a treat.
Friends, Mizz V helping me become lickietier and splickietier on the net.
Friends, Son, Daughter in Laws, Grandkids
The Women’s Room in Pasadena where homeless women have respite and the writing class I lead on Tuesday afternoons where the moments expand to tears and riotous laughter.
good writing.
Enemies of the People, Kati Marton, a great read (for Pasadena book club)
Waiting to read a wonderful book published in early 1900s on Muhammad, clear, insightful.
Gleanings. Baha’u’llah’s writings at the top. Always.
10 books waiting, some study, some fun, all fascinating.
Physical exhaustion, but a day of forced rest.

all of these are big in my young life, and now if I run into a pug today, walking his or her snorty self, i’ll know it’s a wondrous life.

Trial of Baha’is in Iran:  coverage by CNN:

Amid turmoil, Iran set to try 7 Baha’i leaders

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Seven Baha'i community leaders have been held at Tehran's Evin prison since their arrests in March and May 2008.

Seven Baha’i community leaders have been held at Tehran’s Evin prison since their arrests in March and May 2008.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Seven Baha’i prisoners accused of espionage to go on trial Tuesday in Iran
  • Baha’is are accused of spying for Israel, spreading propaganda against Iran
  • One of defendants’ attorneys is in jail; another is outside the country
  • Case of the seven Baha’is has drawn global attention
var cnnRelatedTopicKeys = [];

RELATED TOPICS
  • cnnRelatedTopicKeys.push(‘Iran’); Iran
  • cnnRelatedTopicKeys.push(‘Trials’); Trials

(CNN) — A trial for seven Iranian Baha’is that has come to symbolize the persecution of followers of the faith is set to unfold next week with added controversy and global attention.
Recent turmoil and governmental crackdowns on protesters in Iran have raised concern about the fate of the seven Baha’i community leaders who have been held at Tehran’s Evin prison since their arrests in March and May 2008.
And now other Baha’is, arrested during demonstrations last month on the Shiite holy day of Ashura, will also face trial in the coming days, the semi-official Fars News Agency reported Saturday.
“These people were not arrested because they were Baha’is,” said Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi, prosecutor for Iran’s Public and Revolution Courts. “In searching their homes, a number of weapons and ammunition were discovered.”
He said the Baha’is had “played a role in organizing the riots and sending pictures of the riots abroad. That is why they were arrested.”
But a spokeswoman for the Baha’is said the government’s latest allegations were designed to sow prejudice and hatred against the minority faith in Iran.
“This is nothing less than a blatant lie,” said Diane Ala’i, the Baha’i International Community’s representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. “Baha’is are by the most basic principles of their faith committed to absolute nonviolence, and any charge that there might have been weapons or ‘live rounds’ in their homes is simply and completely unbelievable.”
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has also criticized Iranian officials for blaming the Baha’is for anti-government demonstrations.
“These allegations are not only without merit, but downright fabricated,” said Leonard Leo, chairman of the commission, which acts as an independent advisory board to the U.S. government.
“If the Iranian government moves forward next week with the trial of the seven Baha’i leaders, the U.S. government and international community must demand fair and transparent proceedings in accordance with international human rights standards,” Leo said.
After two delays, that trial is scheduled to open Tuesday.
On Thursday, prominent Indians of the Baha’i faith held a news conference in New Delhi, urging their government to intervene.
“This trial is designed to harass and intimidate, and is one more in a long line of persecution of this community,” said Maja Daruwala, director of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative. “Our country has a long record of pluralism and tolerance and must speak out.”
The Baha’i World Centre estimates there are more than 5 million Baha’is spread around the globe; India has the largest community, with about 2 million.
The seven Iranian Baha’i leaders — two women and five men — are accused of spying for Israel, spreading propaganda against the Islamic republic and committing religious offenses, charges that can carry the death penalty.
Ala’i said the trial has been delayed twice because the Iranian regime has no basis for a case.
“These people are innocent, and that’s a problem,” she said.
She said the Islamic regime is trying to rouse public sentiment ahead of that trial by accusing Baha’is in Iran of instigating the protests that were held on December 27, the day Iranians marked Ashura.
“In general, they are blaming everybody — the foreign media, human rights activists and now the Baha’i,” Ala’i said. “It’s scapegoating.”
Ala’i said concerns deepened Sunday, when her organization received word from families in Iran that 13 Baha’is had been rounded up from their homes, taken to Evin prison and asked to sign documents that they would not engage in future demonstrations.
“Putting two and two together, the situation facing these Baha’i leaders is extremely ominous,” Ala’i said. “We are deeply concerned for their safety.”
The Baha’i faith originated in 19th century Persia, but the the constitution of today’s Islamic republic does not recognize it as a religion and considers followers as apostates.
The Iranian government denies mistreating Baha’is, who number about 300,000 in Iran and are the nation’s largest non-Muslim religious minority, according to Baha’i International. But the Baha’is say believers in Iran are victims of systematic discrimination and targets of violence.

Ala’i said the trial of the community leaders in Tehran has mobilized Baha’is around the world and has taken on symbolic significance — one that could very well transcend the fate of seven men and women.

Here is a copy of John’s obituary.

John Howard Kavelin January 7, 1944 – July 18, 2009

John died as he lived — with joy, gratitude, wonder, and amazing spiritual clarity and wisdom, defying the effects of brain cancer diagnosed 15 months ago. John was a devoted member of the Baha’i Faith and embodies its teaching to “let your vision be world embracing rather than confined to your own selves.” He gave joy to so many as an art director and imagineer for Walt Disney Imagineering. When he was little, he was called “Mr. Toad” because he moved so fast. He later designed “Mr. Toad’s wild ride” at Disneyland. John received his Bachelor’s and Master’s of Fine Arts degrees from Carnegie Mellon University and Brandeis University. His 40-year career as a designer spans the worlds of opera, theatre, exhibit design, television and film. John is a 17-year veteran of Walt Disney

Imagineering as an art director and show producer, He was the lead designer for “Asia” at Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida and spent 6 years in Japan as Director of Design and Production for Tokyo Disneyland. In 1990, John, his sister Linda Kavelin Popov and brother in law Dr. Dan Popov founded The Virtues Project, a global initiative inspiring people of all cultures and beliefs to live by their highest values. It began on Salt Spring Island in 1988 and spread to more than 96 countries and has been endorsed by the United Nations and the Dalai Lama.

Of all John’s creative projects, the two most meaningful to him were The Virtues Project and the design for the Baha’i World Congress in New York in 1992. John’s sweet nature, loving friendship and wise mentoring will be deeply missed by his family and countless friends. A celebration of his life will be held Friday, July 24th at 11 AM at Harbour House and all are welcome.


Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We’re writing you because seven of our dearly loved Baha’i brothers and sisters in Iran are in grave danger, and possibly face execution. They have been held in Tehran’s Evin prison for over a year with no access to their lawyer, Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi. Their crime: being Baha’is.
7 Baha’i Leaders imprisoned in Iran

7 Baha’i Leaders imprisoned in Iran

The US State Department, the UK Foreign Office Minister, Amnesty International and others have roundly condemned the imprisonment and trial of the Baha’is: http://iran.bahai.us.

Support from our Congresspersons

On February 13th, 2009, a bill was introduced in Congress, H. Res. 175, “Condemning the Government of Iran for its state-sponsored persecution of its Bahá’í minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights.” Our Congressman, Adam Schiff, supports it. S. Res. 71, a concurrent resolution to H. Res. 175 regarding the persecution of the Baha’is in Iran, was introduced into the U.S. Senate on March 9, 2009, receiving support from our Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein.

Why should you care?

The Baha’i Faith is a peaceful religion that seeks to promote the unity of mankind. Our principles are in alignment with American values: http://www.bahai.org.

We may be small in number (about 6MM worldwide), but we are spread out across almost every country in the world and are trying to be of service to humanity. Baha’is have been in Pasadena since the early 20th century.

We need your help

You were probably unaware our situation until now, but we need advocates beyond the Baha’i Community:

* Come meet us on Wednesday, August 12th at the Western Justice Center (55 S. Grand Ave., Pasadena 91105). Attending and/or speaking will be US Congressman Adam Schiff, Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, Police Chief Bernard Melikian, and the Hon. Dorothy Nelson, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Your friends and neighbors,

The Baha’is of Pasadena, California

From Linda Popov regarding service, celebration, memorial for John Kavelin:

Saturday, July 25, 2009 10:26 PM, CDT
Dearest friends,
Tommy just read aloud many of your guest book entries to members of our family gathered at Spirit Lodge. Our hearts have been deeply touched by the outpouring of your love and support. How wonderful to know we have this amazing global family, especially at this time when joy and sorrow have embraced, as our father used to say. Tommy’s daughter Zhena who lives in Sweden came from Puerto Rico withTommy and Farahnaz. My son Craig came from San Francisco, son Chris from Australia and Tommy’s daughter Nava from Haifa, Israel! At John’s burial, a small, exquisite circle of friends and family accompanied by a piper recited prayers, sang, and each placed a rose on John’s casket. More than 100 attended yesterday’s celebration. The visual presentation of photos of John’s life including a portion of the dvd of the 20th anniversary conference will be available soon on line. We wish all of you could have been with us for this amazing celebration of John’s life. We did it up right, decorating the hall with tapestries and paintings from John’s home, & lots of flowers. Tommy sang so beautifully as did others. My eulogy was met with many tears and lots of laughs as well. I feel we all need to stay in touch for a while. Dan and I are going away for a week. After that I will send you thoughts on where to make donations in John’s name. Tommy and all of our family join me in sending you our heartfelt love and gratitude. Linda

un24
Jailed Bahá’í leaders set to stand trial in Iran on July 11

01:02 pm on Jun 24th 2009 OEA

The trial of seven Iranian Bahá’í leaders, arrested in the spring of 2008, is scheduled to be held at Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court on July 11, 2009. American-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi was recently convicted of espionage in Branch 28 of this Court and sentenced to eight years imprisonment. She was eventually released, but only after an international outcry at the clear politicization of the case and manifestly unjust legal procedures.

News of the July 11 trial date was conveyed only orally to the family members by authorities at Evin prison, where the seven Bahá’í leaders are being held. As information conveyed by officials concerning the judicial process has often proved unreliable, it is possible that the Iranian authorities may find some reason to change the trial date.

The seven Bahá’í leaders have been held for over a year without formal charges or access to their attorneys. Official Iranian news reports have said the Bahá’ís will be accused of “espionage for Israel, insulting religious sanctities and propaganda against the Islamic Republic.” The charge of “espionage for Israel” is punishable by death.

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Dear Friends, these are personal observations of an individual Baha’i:

Bahá’í Epistolary

What have seven Baha’i prisoners, and the oppressed community they serve, achieved for the nation of Iran?

Posted: 28 Feb 2009 04:31 PM PST
As seven heroic souls in Iran await an impending trial on absurd and dangerous charges, which place their very lives at risk, while excluded from their lawyer, the brave Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi, the question recurs: why?

Why this fear, this virulent hatred of a community so self-evidently committed to peaceful coexistence, sometimes criticised for its absence of partisan political activism, let alone any form of militant stance that might threaten a government, a nation, in the form of hostility, or that staple of government fabrications, espionage?

The nature of the activities of this extraordinary group of people, is explained by the editors of Iran Press Watch as follows:

“After the abduction and disappearance of the nine members of the first National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Iran after the revolution in 1980 and the summary execution of most members of the second such Assembly of Baha’is in 1983, the governing body of the Baha’i community in Iran voluntarily suspended its administrative activities in 1983, and the affairs of the Baha’i community were managed by small groups of three individuals in each locality.

“After a few years, this group of three individuals on the national level became more organized and was named the institution of “The Friends of Iran.” The main responsibility of this institution was managing the affairs of this large religious minority, such as recording marriages, handling divorces, assisting with burials, sending letters of introduction for traveling Baha’is, arranging for worship services, and similar activities. “The Friends of Iran” guided the Baha’i community through many tumultuous years, and provided hope and reassurance through critical times with a unified vision and exemplary resolve.

“The activities of the “Friends” were completely transparent and were devoid of any hidden agenda. Incidentally, during this period, a particular office was designated in the Ministry of Intelligence to follow the activities of the Baha’is. This office would contact the “Friends” directly with any questions about a specific activity. Even Ayatollah Dorri Najafabadi, Iran’s chief prosecutor, has referred to this close monitoring. At the time of the suspension of Baha’i administrative activities in 1983, a letter was sent by the National Assembly of the time to Mousavi Ardabili indicating that in exchange for this suspension, the Baha’i community requested that the government allow its high school Baha’i graduates to enter universities, that the dismissed Baha’i university professors be reinstated, and that the Baha’is fired from the public sector be given permission for employment. The government did not heed or honor any of these requests for minimal civil rights for the Baha’is of Iran.”

Many have been the responses to such dismal and absurd charges. The most memorable for me are perhaps those of Mr. Hamid Hamidi and Moojan Momen. The former, non-Baha’i Iranian intellectual, in a truly remarkable, even historic talk, chronicles impartially with remarkable accuracy and passion the history and context of assaults against the human rights of the Baha’i community as fellow citizens in Iran from the days of Reza Shah to the present day. Moojan Momen’s own statement specifically exposes the absurdity of each of the charges leveled specifically against those seven precious souls who gambled with their lives in service to their community, and to humankind. The context of egregious human rights violations in Iran, not only against the Baha’is, but against many sectors of the population, is eloquently and movingly expounded by a Baha’i uniquely qualified to do so, former UN War Crimes Prosecutor, Payyam Akhavan, reminding us that the world Baha’i community’s struggle for the rights of its cherished brothers and sisters in Iran is part of a wider struggle for justice for all, of whatever faith or none.

Against this backdrop, I was encouraged by a friend whom I deeply respect, to share some excerpts from a paper I wrote in 2001, for an academic journal by the name of the Middle Eastern Studies Association Bulletin, exploring the reasons for the comparative silence of scholars of the Middle East, and of Iran in particular, in relation to all things Baha’i.

As I pondered the suggestion, I reflected that perhaps the discussion that he felt was relevant to what is happening today, was the general exploration of the continuities and discontinuities which the Baha’i Faith represented upon its emergence in the 19th century, and which led to its becoming an “Other” to the people of Iran, to the extent of disappearing from sight, and, if successive governments had had their way, as chronicled by Mr. Hamidi in the link above, dissappearing from existence altogether. In fact, revisiting that paper in the context of today’s fearful persecutions, one finds, not gloom, but extraordinary hope.

For if Baha’is were non-existent then relatively speaking, if one were to judge by their utter absence (outside frequent polemics that form part of their oppression)from the written discourse of their fellow countrymen, intellectuals, activists, artists, journalists, inside Iran and abroad, Iranian Baha’is certainly “exist” now in the voices and the minds of their compatriots, as never in this Faith’s 165 year history.

It is almost a truism for Baha’is, borne out not only scripturally, but by long experience of repression, yet one that cannot ever lose its pathos, that each wave of persecution, each effort to erase this Faith’s existence, is unfailingly accompanied by an unprecedented victory, that only digs its roots the deeper, and establishes its claims before the sight of men. The preceding chapter of extreme and nation-wide oppression, in the 1980’s, achieved in fact, globally speaking, the Baha’i Faith’s emergence from obscurity, and endowed the Baha’is with an extraordinary capacity for global concerted action, that countless activist organizations admire and respect, as Baha’is across the world for the first time arose as one voice in creative and united ways to seek reddress and protection for their fellow believers, mobilising public opinion from city councils and local press to the European Parliament and the United Nations, and averted genocide.

The most immediate victory that the present episode of persecution has already achieved in a manner that has astounded observers, foremost among them the Baha’is themselves, is the final integration of the Iranian Baha’is into the broader identity of their nation. For the first time in their history, the Baha’is are not the Other which I observed in my paper, they are, for a rising, mighty wave of non-Baha’i Iranians, the prominent and the obscure alike, elite and ordinary people, from all walks of life, “one of us”, fellow citizens, and the silence of the past is not only finally and irretrievably broken, but explicitly repudiated, and for all time.

Achieving this, such an extraordinary victory over mass prejudice sustained by unremitting propaganda and lies, from earliest childhood to the grave, is not just a victory for the Baha’i community, but for the people of Iran, and facilitating such a leap of consciousness, such a broadening of hearts, of minds, and social consciousness, is an extraordinary service which these seven prisoners have rendered the noble Iranian nation, together with the ranks of fellow believers who even now languish in dark incarceration, mourn loved ones killed for their religious identity, and strive to contribute to the welfare and prosperity of their country while the avenues of education and livelihood are either severely limited, or altogether shut.

Why did so many millions shiver, irrespective of their politics, when President Obama gave his inaugural speech? Because the United States, as a nation, had achieved a thing of wonder, it had placed an “Other” that arrived in bondage and slavery, in the highest place of honour it was in its gift to choose. And in so choosing, beyond honouring President Obama, beyond honouring a given minority or minorities, as a nation, it honoured itself, to such an extent, that many souls beyond its borders felt honoured too, at their own humanity’s potential to transcend the universal legacies of hate.

This turning tide began most noticeably, as may be followed in the remarkable website, Iran Press Watch, with Iran’s foremost and most prominent human rights advocate, Shirin Ebadi, agreeing to represent the Bahas’is as defense lawyer. More recently, history was made when 267 personalities, not Baha’is, from famous academics to Iran’s most well known pop star, from the most famous student dissident, to the former Miss Iran and second runner up to Miss World,in other words thinkers, journalists, cultural and popular icons, who for decades held their peace, now spoke and said: “we are ashamed”, of the silence that for so long signalled to their Baha’i compatriots, “you are not Us”, while oppression weighed on them. The Iranian Writers’ Association has likewise made its own voice heard, as have writers and journalists of Kurdistan. Even the first President of the Islamic Republic of Iran (1980-1981) has spoken in support of Baha’i rights, and, more astonishing still, one of Iran’s most caustic attackers in print of the Baha’i Faith, has compellingly been moved to write in defense of a community he spent three decades attacking. Similarly Ayatollah Montazeri, once one of the very highest ranking clerics in Iran, and who in his memoirs recorded proudly his youthful persecution of Baha’is in the 1950’s, broke new ground by proclaiming them legal citizens. The record of new voices continues, as political prisoners in a prison in Karaj raised, amidst their own captivity, a “proclamation in support of our Baha’i countrymen”, while 26 Muslim students in a university of Mazindaran protested the expulsion of Baha’i fellow students. The non-Baha’i Iranian journalist Ali Keshtgar captured the spirit of this mighty victory of non-violent example and resilience over the fear and exclusion of centennial prejudice in the title of his piece: “We are all Iranian Baha’is”.

To grasp the extent of this trajectory, and its cultural significance for Iran, I return, as requested, to that paper from 2001, with the following excerpts which might be germane to this discussion:

In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the Baha’i faith could be aptly described as an underground messianic movement. Nevertheless, it was not the first such movement. The tradition of Persianate religious radicalism goes back to the origins of Persianate Islam and has always been linked in significant and often predominant ways to chiliastic fervor. The work of scholars such as Madelung, Hodgson, Dickson, Daftari, Corbin, Nasr, Modarresi, Arjomand, and, more recently, Amanat, Babayan, and Cole, has shed much light into the character of these movements, and permitted the beginnings of an integrated picture to emerge. Babayan in particular has sought to identify, following Hodgson and Madelung, common features that, amidst the bewildering diversity, provide grounds for seeing, in the recurrence of certain outlooks and motifs, a tradition of religious innovation in a Persianate context, rather than a collection of sporadic and more or less isolated incidents and movements. At the center of ghulati movements, suggests Babayan, has been found what she describes as “a sense of immediacy in the desire to experience a utopia on earth.” The ghulat are often “idealists and visionaries who believe that Justice could reign in this world of ours”:

“Reluctant to await another existence, perhaps another form, or eternal life following death and resurrection, individuals (ghulat [exaggerators]) with such temperaments emerged at the advent of Islam expecting to attain the apocalyptic horizon of Truth.…They do not see the universe in linear terms of a beginning and an end, but as successive cycles where the end of one era spontaneously flowed into the beginning of another…there is no Final Apocalypse, no End-Time as is believed by “mainstream” Jews, Christians and Muslims….What distinguishes each cycle is a new prophetic vision, each time unveiling layers of the mystery of the universe. And since the cosmos was understood to be alive, endlessly unravelling new dimensions in a way that ultimate Truth was inexplicable, almost unfathomable, creativity and new imaginings saw no bounds for the ghulat.”[Kathryn Babayan, Mystics, Monarchs and Messiahs: Cultural Landscapes of Early Modern Iran]

I have cited rather extensively because in this one paragraph a distinguished scholar seeks to encapsulate the essence of a specific tradition of religious innovation in the Persianate world. I would like to compare the citation to the following messianic proclamation by Bah’u’llah:

“It is evident that every age in which a Manifestation of God hath lived is divinely ordained, and may, in a sense, be characterised as God’s appointed Day. This Day, however, is unique, and is to be distinguished from those that have preceded it. The designation “Seal of the Prophets” fully revealeth its high station. The Eternal Truth is now come. He hath lifted up the Ensign of Power, and is shedding upon the world the unclouded splendour of His Revelation.”[Bah’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, (London: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1978), p. 59.]

Clearly, Baha’u’llah’s messianic message strongly resonates with the themes enunciated by Babayan and may be regarded as emerging out of that tradition. This view finds further reinforcement from the fact that Baha’u’llah repudiated finality for his revelation, holding fast to a cyclical yet evolutionary approach to eschatology that envisaged no end to the periodic and progressive (re)appearance of divine Messengers.

Such links with the tradition of ghuluw are of course as much historical as intellectual, the Baha’i vision having evolved in direct engagement with the Shaykhism of Shaykh Ahmad Ahsai and Siyyid Kazim Rashti, various strands of irfani and sufi thought and, above all, the rich and living heritage of Siyyid Ali Muhammad, the Bab. The use Baha’u’llah made of this tradition, however, was fundamentally not imitative but creative, resulting in a radical transformation to which we will return below.

It takes, however, more than a messianic figure to make a messianic movement; the response has to be forthcoming. In the case of Baha’u’llah (and of the Bab before him) the response was considerable not just in numbers, but in spread. Among the sectors from which the leadership of the Baha’i community was drawn in Baha’u’llah’s time, according to Momen, were: major `ulama, such as mujtahids, and imam-jum`ihs; minor `ulama, such as religious students (tullab) and sufi darvishes (rawdih-khans); the nobility, including members of the royal court, Qajar princes, governors, high government officials, and military commanders of rank of sartip and above; major land-owners and factory-owners (sahib-kar); minor government officials, secretaries, couriers, and soldiers; wholesale merchants (tujjar) and financiers (sarraf); retail merchants, usually guilded; skilled urban workers such as guilded craftsmen (asnaf) usually ustad (master craftsman), and traditional service workers (for example, tabíb, doctor); unskilled urban workers; peasant and rural workers; tribal peoples; and eventually modern professionals as well. Not only Iranians of Twelver Shi’i background were represented, but also Zoroastrians, Jews, Ahl-i Haqq, Afshari turkomen, Kurds, and Lurs—and this list is drawn only from within the borders of Iran itself. Baha’i presence in urban settings was only slightly more important than in rural settings.[Moojan Momen, “Iran” l] It is suggested that the swift emergence of a substantial Babi, and subsequently Baha’i, following in Persia constitutes a landmark response to ideological tensions that go back to the beginnings of Persianate Islam, and belongs to, yet also breaks with, the Persianate tradition of religious dissent.

In his seminal interpretive essays on the birth and demise of the late Antique world Browne emphasizes the cultural tensions engendered by the irruption of Arabo-Muslim culture into Sassanid Persia. Islam was the space where these tensions were played out. On the one, it was used as a source of legitimacy and a tool for cultural and political hegemony by the initially Arabized rulers of Persia. On the other hand, Islam served as an instrument for cultural and political appropriation and survival by a distinctive Persianate society. The result was a Persianate religious idiom that remained distinctive, far-reaching, and fragmented. Thus, we see in Persia and its cultural sphere movements and belief systems take root and develop which in the epicenters of the Arab cultural sphere stand out (in the main) as both foreign and alien―examples ranging from orthodox Shi’ism, Twelver and Sevener alike, to much of Sufism and, of course, ghuluw. These religious currents, it is suggested, reflect enduring attempts to appropriate Islam into a Persianate idiom and resolve tensions going back to late Antiquity between a Persianate (gnostic/cyclical) religious heritage, and a Semitic (nomic/linear) worldview inherited from Islam.

From the outset of Persianate Islam, successive political regimes in Persia evolved and jealously guarded Islamic identities that buttressed their power by imposing cultural hegemonies over a volatile cultural mix. In this context, radical religious innovation not only challenged the cultural hegemony of a given Islamic identity, but inescapably undermined the legitimacy of the political order that upheld it. With such weight accruing to ideological conformity in a milieu brimming with cultural tensions, it comes as no surprise that Islamic heresiography should have specially flourished in the Persianate sphere, as groups fought for political power through cultural control. Religious dissent was inevitably political dissent too. Such links between political revolt and religious radicalism are certainly not unique to Persia. What makes Persianate religious dissent distinctive is its persistent attempt to reconcile its Islamic identity with a pre-Islamic heritage that refuses to relax its ideological grip. We thus find, for instance, formulations of the Islamic escathon not only turning to pre-Islamic theological orientations, but even making room for pre-Islamic Iranian legend, as in the case of the radical Sufism of the Safavi period. Or should we say rather that an enduring pre-Islamic Iranian mindset made occasional room for Islamic eschatology?

True to the Persianate tradition of religious innovation, Baha’u’llah’s vision was able to transcend a strictly Islamic worldview through realized eschatology. Only, Baha’u’llah appropriated not merely the pre-Islamic past but, crucially, the non-Islamic present, to predicate a post-Islamic future. In the past, Islamicate religious dissent had been used to challenge other Islamic cultural hegemonies. Persians who embraced Baha’u’llah’s message, and, even more, Persians who embraced the Bab’s message, were responding to similar pressures, seeking to resist cultural encroachments from a new religious-political hegemony fractiously championed by the ‘ulama and, to a lesser degree, the secular rulers of Qajar Persia. The Baha’í teachings, typically, criticized the clerical establishment and formulated an alternative, spiritualized, and disestablished view of its place in society, legitimizing the sovereignty of secular rulers independently of clerical authority.

For the first time, however, equally strong pressures on identity came from a source outside the Islamicate world altogether: the Western world, whose expansion was accompanied by a subtle but insidious assertion of cultural hegemony in the form of Empire, one of the drivers of globalization. The Baha’i teachings gave nineteenth-century Persians who wished to do so a vehicle to resist the cultural (hence social and political) hegemony not only of the ’ulama, but of the intruding Western world. The Baha’i teachings could appropriate the idiom not just of Persianate Islam, but also of the West and use it to resist its cultural hegemony, in the same way as Islam gave the Sassanids a means to appropriate the cultural idiom of the Arabs to resist their attempt at cultural dominance. In other words, the Baha’i teachings opened an avenue for a new, post-Islamic identity that promised to overcome and finally resolve the cultural (and by implication political and social) tensions of the day. They also posed an unmistakable challenge to the existing order. What was seen by some as the fulfillment of Islam, was regarded by others as its open subversion.

What is perhaps most remarkable is that through the far-reaching political and social changes that have taken place since the days of Nasir-i Din Shah, the repression of Iranian Baha’is has remained constant, varying only in intensity, regardless of the prevailing order of the day. Coverage of these persecutions has focused on the Qajar period and the persecutions under the Islamic Republic, but Baha’is also suffered periodic persecutions throughout the whole Pahlavi period, not least being the country-wide campaign orchestrated against them in 1955. Even in quiet periods under the Pahlavis, the Baha’is never achieved rights as basic as having their marriages legally recognized. The consistency of this persecution suggests powerful cultural, social, and political continuities that may easily pass unnoticed by scholars of the ever-changing Iranian socio-political landscape.

The Baha’i Faith as Departure

Having concentrated on historical continuities, we may now elaborate on the discontinuities. For even as there can be little doubt that the worldview and community that crystallized around Baha’u’llah has inextricable connections with the rich currents of tradition, there can likewise be little doubt that in Baha’u’llah’s hands, the traces of tradition were embedded in something altogether new, something Other, something amounting, both in intent and consequence, to a new religion. The theological transition from Islam has recently been mapped by Buck. The author describes Baha’u’llah’s doctrinal teachings as “an ideological bridge to a new worldview.”[Chris Buck, Symbol and Secret (Los Angeles: Kalimat Press, 1995), chapter 5] This new worldview implied sociological innovations too. Traditionally, the energies released by large-scale Islamicate responses to a messianic claim have sought outlet in military enterprises. Such indeed was the case with Babism. The idea of the conquering Mahdi or Qaim pervaded prophetic expectations, and the conquest was expected to occur by military and supernatural means. This Islamic ideal of messianic conquest, like so much else in the Islamic heritage, was not rejected by Baha’u’llah, but it was recast in spiritualized form, community building, and moral regeneration taking the place of physical combat as the proper instruments of victory. Baha’u’llah would eventually conquer the world, but would do so by spiritual means, through the attraction of hearts, and the battle would be waged by Baha’is through a consecrated dedication to community building and the cultivation of moral rectitude. Not surprisingly, a doctrinal outlook that appropriated the prophetic expectations of all religions yet upheld the relativity of truth led to early experiments in multiculturalism. On the one hand were the imperatives from Baha’u’llah to consort with the followers of all religions; on the other was the conversion of non-Muslim minorities, which initiated a slow and gradual process of cultural rapprochement between converts from these various backgrounds, as has been broadly examined by Stiles-Maneck.[“The Conversion of Religious Minorities,” Journal of Baha’i Studies 3. 3 (1991)]

At this juncture it would be worth asking what contemporary Persians themselves regarded as innovative about Baha’u’llah’s teachings. One testimony comes from a Baha’i convert from the later period of Baha’u’llah’s ministry, a former cleric, writing in 1911 when the Baha’i community had been securely established in the East and had begun to penetrate into the West. The features he highlights as the most significant innovations of Baha’u’llah include: abstaining from crediting verbal traditions; prohibiting individual claims to authoritative interpretation; abrogating conflict and controversy on the basis of differences of opinion; the prohibition of slavery; the obligation to engage in allowable professions as a means of support, and obedience to this law being accepted as an act of worship; the compulsory education of children of both sexes; the command prohibiting cursing and execration and making it obligatory upon all to abstain from uttering that which may offend men; the prohibition on the carrying of arms except in time of necessity; the creation of the House of Justice and institution of national parliaments and constitutional governments; the exhortation to observe sanitary measures and cleanliness, and to shun utterly all that tends to filth and uncleanness; and the provisions of inheritance laws designed, in his view, to prevent the creation of monopolies.[Mirza Abu’l-Fadl Gulpaygani, Letters and Essays, 1886-1913, trans. Juan R. I. Cole (Los Angeles: Kalimat Press, 1992)]

The concerns highlighted in this testimony are not unique, or even rare, although the specific responses are distinctly Baha’i. They reflect issues exercising the minds of many contemporary Persians, regardless of their faith. Iranian Baha’is, like the Baha’i teachings, were distinctive, but far from incomprehensible to fellow Iranians.

…As an outsider to the field, I would have anticipated that at a time when the study of ‘minorities’ is in vogue, the largest religious minority in Iran today would have generated more interest. The absence of even one solid academic monograph on the Baha’i faith in Iran is positively intriguing. This absence is in stark contrast to the volume of work devoted to Persian Jewry, for example, which has, I suspect, received notice outside of Jewish circles.

Similarly, the prominence which the recent persecutions of Baha’is in Iran has had in the Western world has hardly sparked discussion about the roots or cultural significance of persecution, or even the socio-cultural impact of 150 years of continuous repression against a substantial segment of the Iranian population. The place of the Baha’i persecutions in Irano-Western political discourse has hardly been noted, even when major NGOs, numerous national parliaments, the General Assembly of the United Nations, and major heads of state such as former President Clinton have issued condemnations and resolutions and even sent commissions to Iran to investigate human rights abuses against Baha’is.[45] Such contemporary prominence of the Baha’i faith in Irano-Western relations appears to be deeply uninteresting to scholars, to judge from the attention it has received. Even more intriguing is to find that Baha’i historical documents have not been mined in areas such as the social and political history of Qajar Iran, even though they are often extremely rich in detail and broad in geographical spread.[46]

Figures in the history of Babi and Baha’i who attracted the attention of Browne’s generation, such as Qurratu’l-Ayn, scholar-poetess-prophetess, or Abdu’l-Baha, who pioneered the successful translation of a Persianate religious idiom into a Western milieu, have recently received little attention, notable exceptions merely proving the rule. Qurratu’l-Ayn’s ritual unveiling appears to be a particular omission, given the emergence of feminist scholarship on Iran.[47] The transplantation into over 2100 ethnic groups of a Persianate nineteenth-century religious innovation, touching as it does on processes of globalization, modernity, tradition, nationalism, and more, also has passed virtually unnoticed in the literature, perhaps as something that has nothing to do with the Persianate and Middle Eastern milieu that witnessed its genesis.

Finally in this review of, to me, puzzling silences, is the place of the Baha’i community in the drive towards modernization that ran through Iran in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The Baha’i community of Iran at the turn of the century was closely linked to agricultural reform and elementary education at the village level. Modernization extended to educational formats and content as well, as Iranian Baha’is established schools for boys and, significantly, for girls, in partnership with American Baha’is, enjoying, until they were banned, a substantial intake of students from outside the Baha’i community. No serious attention has been given to these schools, nor to Baha’i medical clinics and hospitals or to the role of Baha’is in the introduction to Iran of Western pharmaceutical knowledge. The eradication of illiteracy among all Iranian Baha’i women under the age of forty in the 1960s and 1970s likewise does not appear in the history of Persian women.

In most disciplines, a social movement that sweeps across a country, touches virtually every demographic segment of a population, and has a 150-year history would have a solid body of literature behind it. Is my puzzlement legitimate, or is it merely due to my lack of experience in the field? One possibility is that silence breeds silence, insofar as it might be thought that if leading scholars have not written about a subject for almost a century, there is probably good reason. The question is, what is that reason? Regardless, it is likely that silence does reinforce and perpetuate silence in its own right…

There is one other possibility for the neglect of Baha’i studies. Could it be that in the orthodoxy of Iranian and Islamicate studies, like in the orthodoxy of Iranian religion, a stigma attaches to all things Baha’i? Could it be that beyond academic considerations a certain amount of prejudice is at work? Allow me to explore this question. It appears that, given the prominent presence of the Baha’i faith in Iran historically, the wealth of material available, and the precedent of serious academic study of its history and doctrines by the foremost Iranologists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the more recent silence on the Baha’i faith and the complete indifference even to Baha’i historical sources mark a definite boundary which designates it as Other. Other, that is, from the perspective of a disciplinary paradigm from which it is largely excluded.

This exclusion is significant. The nineteenth-century Persians who converted to the Baha’i faith evidently felt that the boundary between the Islamicate world to which they truly belonged―they could belong to no other―and the Baha’i faith was bridgable. Members of this faith were nineteenth-century Persians, representing a microcosm of Persian society, steeped in its culture, its traditions, its values. They were both Baha’is—they belonged to a distinctive community, with traits that differentiated them from all other Persian communities—and they were Persians—they shared with their compatriots a common education, common material circumstances and pressures, and a great deal more. Yet, in current Islamicist scholarship they are not integrated into the spiritual, social, religious, or political landscape of the nineteenth-century Middle East in the way that the Zoroastrians, Jews, merchants, or ’ulama might be. Nor are they even explicitly excluded. Instead, they are negated.

Let us discard conspiracy theories. I do not believe that many academics in this field would consciously choose to exclude a range of potentially relevant sources merely because they were tagged Baha’i. Rather, the Baha’i faith occupies a disciplinary blind-spot in the perspective of scholars of the Middle East, so that when we look at the Persianate world we do not see the Baha’i faith, when we search for sources we do not notice Baha’i sources, and when they come into our field of vision we push them aside so we can see more clearly what we are examining. It is as if the disciplinary paradigm of contemporary Persianists is predicated on an ‘imagined’ nation, to allude to Anderson, which, emulating the imagined nation of many Iranians throughout the century and across all political divides, cannot explain or even accommodate the existence of the Baha’i faith in Iran. In other words, it may be that an element of cultural bias has filtered into the discipline of Islamics, in a sort of inverted Orientalism, in which the Iranian Baha’i community is exiled from the Iranian cultural experience.

If this is so, then we might be missing an entire dimension of the Islamicate, and particularly the nineteenth-century Persian landscape. In the throes of modernization and the first deep encounters with globalization, we contend that the Baha’i faith opened up possibilities of identity to which nineteenth-century Persians could relate even if they could not always accept the faith. To integrate the Baha’i faith into the nineteenth-century mentality might well change many of our understandings of the multilayered processes of identity formation, affirmation, and development in nineteenth-century Persia. The same might apply to present-day Iran. Who is Baha’u’llah? Who are the Baha’is? What did these questions mean in nineteenth-century Persia? What do they mean in Iran today? Is it not likely that by completely ignoring their existence, we may have a distorted picture of nineteenth-century Persian society? By ignoring their presence in Iran today, their situation, and their place in contemporary Iranian religious and political culture (and international relations), do we not distort our understanding of contemporary Iran?

An Open Letter

from a group of academics, writers, artists, journalists

and Iranian activists throughout the world

to the Baha’i community

We are ashamed!

A century and a half of oppression and silence is enough!

In the name of goodness and beauty, and in the name of humanity and liberty!

As Iranian human beings, we are ashamed for what has been perpetrated upon the Baha’is in the last century and a half in Iran.

We firmly believe that every Iranian, “without distinction of any kind, such as, race, color, sex, language, religion, politics or other opinions,” and also without regard to ethnic background, “social origin, property, birth or other status,” is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, from the very inception of the Baha’i Faith, the followers of this religion in Iran have been deprived of many provisions of human rights solely on account of their religious convictions.

According to historical documents and evidence, from the commencement of the Babi Movement followed by the appearance of the Baha’i Faith, thousands of our countrymen have been slain by the sword of bigotry and superstition only for their religious beliefs. Just in the first decades of its establishment, some twenty thousand of those who stood identified with this faith community were savagely killed throughout various regions of Iran.

We are ashamed that during that period, no voice of protest against these barbaric murders was registered;

We are ashamed that until today the voice of protest against this heinous crime has been infrequent and muted;

We are ashamed that in addition to the intense suppression of Baha’is during its formative decades, the last century also witnessed periodic episodes of persecution of this group of our countrymen, in which their homes and businesses were set on fire, and their lives, property and families were subjected to brutal persecution – but all the while, the intellectual community of Iran remained silent;

We are ashamed that during the last thirty years, the killing of Baha’is solely on the basis of their religious beliefs has gained legal status and over two-hundred Baha’is have been slain on this account;

We are ashamed that a group of intellectuals have justified coercion against the Baha’i community of Iran;

We are ashamed of our silence that after many decades of service to Iran, Baha’i retired persons have been deprived of their right to a pension;

We are ashamed of our silence that on the account of their fidelity to their religion and truthfulness in stating this conviction, thousands of Baha’i youth have been barred from education in universities and other institutions of higher learning in Iran;

We are ashamed that because of their parents’ religious beliefs, Baha’i children are subjected to denigration in schools and in public.

We are ashamed of our silence over this painful reality that in our nation, Baha’is are systematically oppressed and maligned, a number of them are incarcerated because of their religious convictions, their homes and places of business are attacked and destroyed, and periodically their burial places are desecrated;

We are ashamed of our silence when confronted with the long, dark and atrocious record that our laws and legal system have marginalized and deprived Baha’is of their rights, and the injustice and harassment of both official and unofficial organs of the government towards this group of our countrymen;

We are ashamed for all these transgressions and injustices, and we are ashamed for our silence over these deeds.

We, the undersigned, asked you, the Baha’is, to forgive us for the wrongs committed against the Baha’i community of Iran.

We will no longer be silent when injustice is visited upon you.

We stand by you in achieving all the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights.

Let us join hands in replacing hatred and ignorance with love and tolerance.

February 3, 2009

Please read a statement by U.S. Congressman Kirk introducing a resolution
regarding the current situation in the Cradle of the Faith:

http://www.iranpresswatch.org/2009/02/congressman-mark-kirk/

Also, read a historic statement by the Kurdish writers and journalists in
support of the Baha’is at:
http://www.iranpresswatch.org/2009/02/kurdish-statement-support/

This statement is addressed to the Universal House of Justice.

Ahang Rabbani, PhD
http://ahang.rabbani.googlepages.com/
http://iranpresswatch.org/

http://pasadenabahai.wordpress.com

Word of a possible trial against imprisoned Baha’is came yesterday in an Iranian ISNA news agency report quoting Tehran’s deputy public prosecutor, Hassan Haddad. According to the report, a case will be sent to the revolutionary courts next week accusing the seven Baha’is of “espionage for Israel, insulting religious sanctities and propaganda against the Islamic republic.”

It is presumed that the seven referred to by Mr. Haddad are the group of Baha’i leaders from Tehran who were arrested last year in raids reminiscent of sweeps nearly 30 years ago at the start of the Islamic revolution. Those sweeps led to the execution of dozens of Baha’i leaders at the time. …

To read the full article, go to:
http://news.bahai.org/story/694

To read profiles of the seven members of the Baha’i committee who are in prison, go to:
http://news.bahai.org/story/695

For the Baha’i World News Service home page, go to:
http://news.bahai.org


From a Gnat to an Eagle is a phrase in the Baha’i Writings implying one’s potential and range of growth spiritually, and I’ve always adored that phrase. I guess that’s obvious by my blog name.

Reader, I just finished this book, and it’s new. Bill and I knew Nat and his wonderful wife Carol. Bill has worked more in the field of race relations than I and used all of Nat’s books. To put it simply, Bill loves Nat. We once stayed at their house in Amherst for the night, as we were traveling, and they let us have the pug with us in the back bedroom. I was shy with Nat, but Sunday I saw his book and knew Bill should have it for his birthday.

As things go around here, I picked it up first and couldn’t put it down. Every time I went near the book I was filled with this incredible divine sweetness – there’s no other way to portray it. I have been enamoured and spiritually connected to figures in books before, and they have changed my life, but never have I had this sense of being immersed in such divine sweetness. It is a wonderful book, and I just fell in love with Nat, his hopes, his aspirations, his accomplishments and his total humanness. Hope you can check it out somewhere; love to all, esther

Tomorrow July 9th, is a very special day, The Martyrdom of the Bab, the precursor and independent Prophet/Manifesation, who commenced the Baha’i era. The Bab means gate, and the Bab came after the end of the Islamic era, which marked the end of prophecy, and this era, marked the beginning of the unfoldment of prophecy for humanity. The Bab’s Ministry, like Jesus’ was very short. He was martyred on July 9th; and 20,000 of His followers were slaughtered, and then Baha’u’llah, whom the Bab referred to as “Him whom God shall make manifest,” announced his station in 183, having received it in 1850 while He was imprisoned in a cistern under the city of Tehran, imprisoned in chains of 200 pounds. It is a moment in history people are becoming aware of. Check out Baha’i.org if interested.

BAHA’I INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY REJECTS IRANIAN ALLEGATIONS ON RECENT ARRESTS

NEW YORK, 21 May 2008 (BWNS) — Allegations by Iran that six Baha’is were arrested last week for security reasons and not for their faith” are utterly baseless and without documentation, said the Baha’i International Community today.

All of the allegations issued in a statement on Tuesday by the Iranian government are utterly baseless,” said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations, referring to statements made in a press conference given yesterday in Tehran by Iranian government spokesman Gholam-Hossein Elham, at which he acknowledged the arrest and imprisonment of six Baha’i leaders last week.

The allegations are not new, and the Iranian government knows well that they are untrue,” Ms. Dugal said. The documented plan of the Iranian government has always been to destroy the Baha’i community, and these latest arrests represent an intensification of this plan.

The group of Baha’is arrested last week, like the thousands of Baha’is who since 1979 have been killed, imprisoned, or otherwise oppressed, are being persecuted solely because of their religious beliefs. The best proof of this is the fact that, time and again, Baha’is have been offered their freedom if they recant their Baha’i beliefs and convert to Islam, an option few have taken.

Far from being a threat to state security, the Baha’i community of Iran has great love for their country and they are deeply committed to its development. This is evidenced, for example, by the fact that the vast majority of Baha’is have remained in Iran despite intense persecution, the fact that students denied access to education in Iran and forced to study abroad have returned to assist in the development of their country, and the recent effort by Baha’is in Shiraz to provide schooling for underprivileged children – an effort the government responded to by arresting some 54 Baha’i participants in May 2006,” said Ms. Dugal.

In its coverage of Mr. Elham’s press conference, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported that the six Baha’is were arrested for security reasons not for their faith.” The IRNA report also quoted Mr. Elham as saying that the six Baha’is were somehow linked to foreigners, the Zionists in particular.”

Ms. Dugal addressed that issue also, saying:

The charges linking the Baha’is to Zionism are a distortion of history: The Baha’i Faith has its world headquarters in Israel because Baha’u’llah was, in the mid-1800s, sent as a prisoner to the Holy Land by two Islamic countries: Ottoman Turkey and Iran.

The charge that Baha’is are Zionists, which has in fact been made against Baha’is for the last 30 years by Iran, is nothing more than an effort by the government to stir animosity against Baha’is among the Iranian population at large. This is but the most recent iteration in a long history of attempts to foment hatred by casting the Baha’is as agents of foreign powers, whether of Russia, the United Kingdom, or the United States and now Israel all of which are completely baseless.

The real issue, as it relates to Baha’is, who are committed to nonpartisanship and nonviolence, is the ideology of the government, which has undertaken a well-documented effort to utterly block the development of the Baha’i community not only through arrests, harassment and imprisonment but also by depriving their youth of education and preventing adults from obtaining a livelihood.

We would ask whether issues of state security rather than ideology were involved in recent incidents such as the destruction of a Baha’i cemetery and the use of a bulldozer to crush the bones of a Baha’i who was interred there; the harassment of hundreds of Baha’i schoolchildren throughout Iran by teachers and school officials in an effort to make them reject their own religion; or the publication of dozens of defamatory anti-Baha’i articles in Kayhan and other government-sponsored news media in recent months,” said Ms. Dugal.

She also noted that over the years, a number of government officials, clerics, and members of the judiciary have in fact made statements in private noting the nonpartisan conduct of the Baha’i community and the unjustified nature of government charges against Baha’is.

She added that the present government s ideology is based in large part on a belief that there could be no Prophet following Muhammad. The Baha’i Faith poses a theological challenge to this belief.

Freedom of religion is the issue and Iran itself is a signatory to international covenants that acknowledge the right of individuals to freedom of religion or belief, including the right to change one s religion,” Ms. Dugal said.

What the Iranian government cannot tolerate is that the Iranian people are less responsive to the government s propaganda, because they see the reality that Iranian Baha’is love their country, are sincere in their desire to contribute to its well-being, are peace-loving, and are law-abiding and that these qualities stem from their beliefs. Consequently, there is growing sympathy for the Baha’is. Increasingly, people at all levels of the society are coming to their defense both privately and publicly, and there is growing interest in and attraction to the Baha’i Faith amongst the population,” Ms. Dugal said.

To view the photos and additional features click here:
http://news.bahai.org


Dorothy Nelson votes for members of Universal House of Justice, Haifa, Israel. John Amir-Abbassi took this picture. Wonderful.

Iranian Baha’i School Children
In April 2007, the Bahá’í International Community reported that Baha’i students in primary and secondary schools throughout Iran were being increasingly harassed, vilified, and held up to abuse because of their Faith. Many incidents of mistreatment were reported at the time, and it appears that these incidents have been escalating in recent months.

Bahá’í school children in Iran are being subjected to cruel and harsh treatment as part of a government-sponsored campaign against the Bahá’í community. Reports indicate that Baha’i pupils are secretly monitored and reported upon by school officials, are subjected to vilification by their teachers and school administrators, and are forced to listen to vile and outrageous tales about the teachings of their Faith and the moral behavior of Baha’is. It has now become clear that Baha’i pupils in primary and secondary schools are being expelled on the basis of the stipulation in the “Golpaygani memorandum” that Baha’is “can be enrolled in schools provided they have not identified themselves as Baha’is”. Pupils are often expelled when they identify themselves as Baha’is, when they try to defend the Faith against utterly unfounded accusations, or when they respectfully attempt to correct gross misrepresentations of the Faith’s history in the textbooks they must study. It has also been reported that Baha’is in secondary schools are to be given grades sufficient to graduate but too low to allow entrance to university.

To learn more about some of the incidents that have been taking place from June 2007 to January 2008, click here to get a summary.

How can you help?

People are encouraged to raise awareness about this deplorable maltreatment of young Bahá’í pupils with groups that focus on the interests of children, such as parents of young children, parent-teacher organizations, teachers and teachers’ unions, principals and headmasters, school boards and community education organizations.

You could:

If you are a member of a professional teachers association or parent-teacher association, or a school administration association, please approach your colleagues about what actions they might take.

IRANIAN BAHA’IS SENTENCED TO PRISON WERE HELPING UNDERPRIVILEGED YOUTH

GENEVA, 6 February 2008 (BWNS) — Accusations by the Iranian government that 54 Baha’is were engaged in anti-regime “propaganda” when they were arrested almost two years ago are patently false, the Baha’i International Community said today.

In November, three of that group were re-arrested and imprisoned for four years. The others have reportedly been given suspended one-year sentences.

“Far from working against the government, the Baha’is who were arrested in May 2006 were engaged in a humanitarian project aimed at helping underprivileged young people in the city of Shiraz,” said Diane Ala’i, the Baha’i International Community’s representative to the United Nations in Geneva.

“Charges by the government that suggest otherwise are nothing less than an attempt to repress Iranian Baha’is generally and to deflect international criticism of Iran’s human rights record,” she said.

Concern over the status of the Baha’is sentenced in Shiraz was highlighted last week after an Iranian government spokesperson accused them of engaging in anti-government “propaganda,” according to wire service reports. (While those reports put the total arrests at 54, Baha’i sources indicate that only 53 Baha’is were arrested in May 2006.)

That charge of anti-regime propaganda came several days after the US State Department and Amnesty International expressed concern over the fact that three of the Baha’is arrested had been summarily imprisoned in November for terms of four years.

According to Agence France-Presse, an Iranian judiciary spokesman, Ali Reza Jamshidi, confirmed the prison sentences for the three and also told reporters on 29 January that 51 others had received suspended one-year jail terms, conditional on their attendance of courses held by the state’s Islamic Propaganda Organization.

“The accounts emerging from Iran tell of a government that is desperate to justify its actions in the jailing of three innocent people by accusing them of teaching the Baha’i Faith, which is synonymous with ‘anti-regime propaganda’ in the government’s twisted perspective, said Ms. Ala’i. “This is further evidenced by the requirement that the others attend re-education classes, which are clearly aimed at coercing them away from their religious beliefs.

“While teaching the Baha’i Faith cannot be considered a crime of any sort, given that freedom of religion is protected by international law, the fact is that the Baha’is who were arrested almost two years ago in Shiraz were not working to spread Baha’i teachings — rather they had initiated and were participating in a number of literacy and youth empowerment projects in various locations in and near Shiraz.

“Moreover, the group had introduced the projects to the Islamic Council of the city of Shiraz in 2005 and had subsequently received a letter from the Cultural Commission granting permission to continue their activities,” said Ms. Ala’i.

Ms. Ala’i also discussed charges, made in court documents, that the use of a workbook titled “Breezes of Confirmation,” which focuses on teaching language skills and basic moral principles, constitutes part of the evidence that Baha’is were teaching the Baha’i Faith.

“The fact is,” said Ms. Ala’i, ” ‘Breezes of Confirmation’ makes no direct reference to the Baha’i Faith — and its lessons reflect moral lessons common to all religions.

“In view of the government’s continued rebuff of international appeals for the immediate release of the three prisoners, it is important to provide a detailed account, so as to set the record straight,” said Ms. Ala’i. The names of the three are Haleh Rouhi Jahromi, 29; Raha Sabet Sarvestani , 33; and Sasan Taqva, 32.

NEW TACTIC OBSTRUCTS BAHA’I ENROLLMENTS IN IRANIAN UNIVERSITIES

GENEVA, 31 January 2008 (BWNS) — More than a million students take Iran’s national university entrance examination each year. So Halaku Rahmaniyan was extremely pleased when he learned he had placed 76th from the top.

“I was happy, because I knew that it was a good result and that I could enter any subject in any university with that ranking,” the 18-year-old student from Tehran wrote in a blog recently.

He did not understand why, then, he still had not been accepted anywhere by December. So Mr. Rahmaniyan called the national Education Measurement and Evaluation Organization (EMEO), which administers the exam, and spoke with a top official.

The official, too, was puzzled — until Mr. Rahmaniyan said he was a Baha’i.

“Suddenly, after the word ‘Baha’i,’ he discontinued the call,” wrote Mr. Rahmaniyan.

Then he received a letter from the EMEO.

“Respectfully, in response to your request for the issuance of a certificate of ranking for the year 2007, we would like to inform you that owing to you having an incomplete file, issuance of a certificate of ranking is not possible,” stated the letter.

The story is one of many from Iran in recent months that highlight the latest tactic by the Iranian government in its long-running campaign to block Baha’is from access to higher education: to claim that their examination files are somehow “incomplete.”

Almost 800 of the more than 1,000 Baha’is who sat for and properly completed the entrance exam in June 2007 have received word that their files are “incomplete” — thus preventing their enrollment.

“These latest figures show that, despite its denials, the Iranian government is continuing its campaign to prevent Baha’is from going to university,” said Diane Ala’i, the Baha’i International Community’s representative to the United Nations in Geneva.

“The tactic of claiming that the examination files of Baha’i students are somehow ‘incomplete’ is yet another ruse by the government to act as if it respects human rights while covertly moving ahead with its persecution of Baha’is,” said Ms. Ala’i, noting that none of the some 900 Baha’is who sat for the examination in 2006 received a notice of “incomplete files.”

For more than 25 years, Baha’is have been banned from public and private universities in Iran. After pressure from the United Nations, governments, academic, educational, and human rights organizations, the government indicated in 2004 that it would stop asking university applicants about their religious affiliation, which seemed to open the door to Baha’i enrollments.

Each year since then, however, the government, which has been actively pursuing a campaign to identify all of the Baha’is in Iran and therefore is able to target Baha’i university students, has come up with some type of obstruction.

MORE DETAILS

For the 2006-2007 academic year, the main tactic used to deprive Baha’is of access to higher education was expulsions.

As noted, about 900 Baha’i students sat for the exam in June 2006. Nearly 500 passed and were listed as eligible to apply to university. Yet of the roughly 200 who ultimately managed to enroll in university in autumn 2006, the majority were gradually expelled over the course of the academic year.

The students were expelled as their identity as Baha’is became known to university officials.

That those expulsions reflect official government policy was confirmed in a confidential 2006 letter from Iran’s Ministry of Science, Research and Technology instructing Iranian universities to expel any student who is discovered to be a Baha’i.

Baha’i students have been speaking out on blogs and in other forums. Nevertheless, the names have been withheld in the following accounts to protect their identity.

In October, a male student from Hamadan, who was expelled last year, told how many Baha’i students wished to educate themselves in part to help advance the development of their country.

“In order to better play our role in the reformation and distinction of this sacred land, we ask the respected officials to remove all obstacles for the entrance and continuation of the education of Baha’i students and lovers of knowledge at all universities in the country,” he said.

In February, a young woman wrote to a high official to ask why she had been suddenly expelled from Payame Noor University.

“Of what crime have we been accused?” she asked. “After many years of yearning to receive a university education, I was ultimately given permission to enroll at a university this current year. Alas, I was expelled because of my religion after attending classes for a few weeks.”

As noted, for the 2007-2008 academic calendar, of the more than 1,000 students who sat for and properly completed the entrance examination, nearly 800 were excluded because of “incomplete files.”

Mr. Rahmaniyan learned of his high score from an Internet posting in the fall. “I ranked 54th in the regional quota and had come 76th nationwide,” he wrote in a blog entry.

“Soon after, I found out that most of the Baha’i youth of my age group, were not even permitted to see their exam results because of having what had been announced on the Internet as ‘incomplete file,'” he wrote. “My joy turned into sorrow….”

Ms. Ala’i noted that Mr. Rahmaniyan’s case is not unusual. Many Baha’is this year, as in previous years, scored well on the national university entrance examination but were not allowed entry, even though other students with lower scores were allowed to enroll, she said.

“The low percentage of Baha’is in university in Iran is not because of low test scores or poor academic achievement,” said Ms. Ala’i. “It is simply because the government has sought by various means to block Baha’is from enrolling or staying in university.”

In 2004 and 2005, she said, the Baha’is were prevented from enrolling because the government sent back the examination papers with the word “Islam” printed in the data field for a prospective student’s religion. That was unacceptable to Baha’is until it was clarified in 2006 and 2007 that that notation only meant the student had passed the exam’s section on Islam, and did not indicate religious identity.

“Despite repeated protests by Western academics, university officials, and college students in many countries, not to mention resolutions at the United Nations and efforts by human rights organizations, Iran has clearly continued its campaign to prevent Baha’is from gaining access to higher education, even while they claim that no such discrimination exists.

“A serious effort by the government to end this injustice would be a first step towards showing the world its genuine commitment to international human rights standards and equal treatment of all its citizens regardless of their religious belief,” said Ms. Ala’i.

EGYPT COURT UPHOLDS BAHA’I PLEA IN RELIGIOUS FREEDOM CASES

CAIRO, 29 January 2008 (BWNS) — In a victory for religious freedom, a lower administrative court here today ruled in favor of two lawsuits that sought to resolve the government’s contradictory policy on religious affiliation and identification papers.

The Court of Administrative Justice in Cairo upheld arguments made in two cases concerning Baha’is who have sought to restore their full citizenship rights by asking that they be allowed to leave the religious affiliation field blank on official documents.

“Given the degree to which issues of religious freedom stand at the heart of human rights issues in the Middle East, the world should cheer at the decision in these two cases today,” said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations.

“The compromise offered by the Baha’is in these two cases opens the door to a way to reconcile a government policy that was clearly incompatible with international law — as well as common sense,” said Ms. Dugal.

“Our hope now is that the government will quickly implement the court’s decision and allow Baha’is once again to enjoy the full rights of citizenship to which they are duly entitled,” said Ms. Dugal.

The decisions today concerned two cases, both filed by Baha’is, over the issue of how they are to be identified on government documents.

The first case involves a lawsuit by the father of twin children, who is seeking to obtain proper birth certificates for them. The second concerns a college student, who needs a national identity card to re-enroll in university.

The government requires all identification papers to list religious affiliation but restricts the choice to the three officially recognized religions — Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Baha’is are thus unable to obtain identification papers because they refuse to lie about their religious affiliation.

Without national identify cards — or, as in the case of the twin children, birth certificates — Baha’is and others caught in the law’s contradictory requirements are deprived of a wide range of citizenship rights, such as access to employment, education, and medical and financial services.

These problems were highlighted in a report issued in November by Human Rights Watch and the Cairo-based Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR).

“Employers, both public and private, by law cannot hire someone without an ID, and academic institutions require IDs for admission,” said the report. “Obtaining a marriage license or a passport requires a birth certificate; inheritance, pensions, and death benefits are contingent on death certificates. The Ministry of Health has even refused to provide immunizations to some Baha’i children because the Interior Ministry would not issue them birth certificates accurately listing their Baha’i religion.”

The issuance of birth certificates is at the heart of the first case, which concerns 14-year-old twins Imad and Nancy Rauf Hindi. Their father, Rauf Hindi, obtained birth certificates that recognized their Baha’i affiliation when they were born.

But new policies require computer generated certificates, and the computer system locks out any religious affiliation but the three officially recognized religions. And without birth certificates, the children are unable to enroll in school in Egypt.

The second lawsuit was filed by the EIPR last February on behalf of 18-year-old Hussein Hosni Bakhit Abdel-Massih, who was suspended from the Suez Canal University’s Higher Institute of Social Work in January 2006 due to his inability to obtain an identity card because of his refusal to falsely identify himself as either a Muslim, a Christian, or a Jew.

In both cases, lawyers representing the Baha’is have made it clear that they were willing to settle for cards or documents on which the religious affiliation field is left blank or filled in, perhaps, as “other.”

This solution is what makes these two cases different from the lawsuit that was rejected by the Supreme Administrative Court last year. In that ruling, the Supreme Administrative Court rejected a decision by the lower that upheld the right of Baha’is to be properly identified on government documents.

Canadian architect featured at Yale event on sacred architecture
New Haven, Connecticut, 12 December 2007 (CBNS) — On October 26 and 27th 2007, the Yale School of Architecture held a symposium called, “Constructing the Ineffable: Contemporary Sacred Architecture”. Among the presenters was Fariborz Sahba, Canadian architect of the Bahá’í House of Worship in India and the Terraces of the Shrine of the Báb in Haifa, Israel.

Art as supplication, new book “Otto Donald Rogers” released
Toronto, Ontario, 13 November 2007 (Rob O’Flanagan, CBNS) — Every work of art Otto Rogers has set out to make began with a sense of great anticipation. “Within the act of creation lies the anticipation of assistance,” said Rogers, 72, who is the subject of a major new art book from Radius Books, a new publisher based in Santa Fe, New Mexico.Otto Donald Rogers art books against the backdrop of his latest paintings at David Mirvish Books
Otto Donald Rogers was released this month. “It’s a wonderful thing to feel as if you are being assisted from some power outside of yourself – to feel moved,” said the artist, speaking of the potential spiritual incentive that lies hidden in the act of painting.

“I could never anticipate what the work would be like and I still can’t. I always look forward to what the outcome of that assistance might be.”

Rogers’ artistic momentum began at the age of 17, shortly after leaving his hometown in Saskatchewan to begin his artistic education, first at the Saskatoon Teachers’ College and then at the University of Wisconsin.

The vast openness of the Saskatchewan landscape maintains a symbolic presence in his paintings and constructions, which owe much to the visual tutelage of the great painters of the 20th century – George Braque, Kurt Schwitters, Antonio Tapies and others.

In America in the mid-1950s, Rogers first encountered the works of the modernist masters of the day, people like Mark Rothko and Robert Motherwell, who would influence his own approach to painting.

It was around the same time that he first encountered the Baha’i Faith, introduced to him by his future wife, Barbara. He embraced the religion. His religious and artistic practices have carried on a symbiotic relationship for nearly half a century.

“The intoxication of the natural world experienced as a child now combined with the impressions of contemporary art to produce a transforming effect,” he writes in the compelling essay that accompanies Otto Donald Rogers, a 177-page book which features coloured reproductions of works completed over the past decade.

Copies of the book – the first printing is limited to 1,200 copies – will be distributed to about 300 libraries throughout North America. Visual artist, art critic and essayist Sky Glabush, wrote the introduction to the book.

“He is modern in the idealistic and avant-garde sense that Picasso is modern or in the promissory brightness of Kandinsky, or the utopian idealism of Mondrian,” writes Glabush.

“Rogers has often described his efforts in the studio as a form of worship. It is not as if his work is emulating prayer, or illustrating a spiritual state; rather, the act of painting itself, when striving towards perfection, becomes a form of devotion.”
Otto Donald Rogers at the November 7th Mirvish Books Launch of his new book “For Rogers, art is a supplication, the highest expression of which is unity.”

Widely recognized as one of Canada’s leading painters, Rogers’ legacy as a modernist figure in this country and abroad will be enhanced by the new book, said photographer, writer and educator Darius Himes, co-founder of Radius Books, which is dedicated to publishing books with broad artistic and cultural value.

Himes and Rogers met about 15 years ago while the two were serving at the Baha’i World Centre in Haifa, Israel. “I was a young photographer, someone who had just come out of art school, and he was very encouraging and influential in terms of getting me to think more about art and the effect of images,” said Himes.

About three years ago, the two reconnected and began talking about the creation of a “small catalogue.” The project grew to become a major book, and discussion is underway to produce additional books on Rogers’ work.

“Otto’s essay is actually quite monumental, in that it addresses some of things he has tried to address in his life over the last 45 years,” said Himes. “I love his work. There is a certain stillness in it, a meditative quality that is more about quietude. But there is also a great deal of dynamism in it, as well.

“The central issue for me in his approach is this idea of taking diverse elements and creating some sort of unity with them.” Himes summarized the artist’s staggering output, saying Rogers has mounted the equivalent of a solo exhibition each year for the past 45 years.

“And he has continued to evolve,” said Himes. “His work has become very dynamic.”

Having taught art for 30 years – encouraging countless aspiring young artists to pursue creative work – Rogers said he is himself a student of art.

“I just came back from New York, where I spent two weeks looking at art,” he said, “I came back with 35 books. I now have 1,200 books in my art library, and still I’m buying more.” Rogers lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario.

To learn more about the book visit Radius Books and look under Books, Fall 2007.

Egypt religious freedom cases continued to 22 January
CAIRO, 25 December 2007 (BWNS) — Court hearings on two lawsuits filed by Baha’is over the government’s policy on religious affiliation and national identity papers have been continued until 22 January 2008. The two cases, the first by the father of twin children who is seeking to obtain proper birth certificates for them and the second by a college student who needs a national identity card to re-enroll in university, had been set for “final judgment” by the Court of Administrative Justice in Cairo today.

In Memory of Sue Schreiber (January 28, 1924-December 2, 2007)

You know I could go on in my best high school valedictorian manner about Sue aka Lillian Schreiber, but that’s not who we are, nor what I remember. So I’m going to go for images and moments and hopefully people will see well beyond the curved up, quiet, still gracious form, who endured her last days with precious little complaint. Tremendous care surrounded her a lot of courtesy from a couple of very good guys like Ralph, Janet, Peggy, Jo and others. She appreciated every one.

Sue wasn’t one who walked into a room and commanded space, because she was a gentle little thing. She did have though a tensile strength, a fortitude to endure, and sustain others.

She must have started out as a sliver. I think she was surprised by her ending days, with such curved bones, almost like a detached moon crescent, but she was still a sliver emitting a quiet grace. Inside that ravaged body of hers lay a spunky self, and a tremendous capacity for endurance. I think she got the attribute of patience down, really down, and Abdu’l Baha said that was the hardest quality.

My husband Bill and I are often noted for our obsession with pug dogs. I love the phrase, “A hell of a lot of dog packed into a small space.” That was Sue, “A lot of soul crammed into a small space.” She doesn’t have to worry about small spaces any more. She’s a bird released from her cage.

Did you know she started out in South Dakota, born on a farm, and later and went to a one-room school? She would ride a pony back and forth to school bareback. One day in the sixth grade, she fell asleep on her pony, coming home from school. That pony just took off lickety split, ran under a tree branch, knocked Sue off her keester, and kept going. Sue laughed about that forever.

Sue’s Mom, Nora, adopted Mertie because the flu epidemic killed her parents, and later when Sue’ mom died, and Mertie who was about 12 years older was married, Sue went to live with Mertie and Don. Sue adored Mertie, spoke of her many times throughout her life. Anyhow, I know Sue had 3 years of college but somehow left and went to work in Seattle. When she met Ralph, he took her to dinner at his parent’s house right away, and she liked him and his parents. I thought Ralph and Sue married in three weeks, but she said, “No, 2 ½.” “The first 35 years were the hardest,” she said one day when we were talking in her kitchen. She had health problems up the kazoo, and odious migraines.

I remember watching Sue and Ralph holding hands in 1985 or 1986 at a Baha’i Conference in San Francisco. These last 10 or so years were hard for her, as she gradually went blind, and just plain out struggled physically. She didn’t complain. I honestly don’t know how she did it. I would have been chewing up corners of my blanket or putting my face in a dog bowl growling. She valued Ralph’s steadfastness and constancy greatly. I don’t think a day went by when she didn’t mention to me how lucky and how protected she was. She loved her kids, grandchildren and the Baha’i community.

She was a thin little thing most of her life, eating Bieler soup, which from my point of view is a hell of a lot of green beans and precious little else. She ate it by the vat load, because that’s what resurrected her immune system. She liked ice cream and put it on the kids’ cereal every now and then, and when Ralph had his quadruple or whatever bypass, she started eating ice cream every night, and one day, she wasn’t skinny any more.

The biggest thing about Sue is she worked on not ever even thinking badly about anyone, let alone not saying anything negative, She understood the human condition, and to me personified the quote “The greatest pilgrimage is to relieve the sorrow laden heart.”

She loved books and found a used book about the Baha’i Faith and came home and told Ralph about it. That was in the early 60s and from then on Ralph and Sue’s home filled with people and all manner of Baha’i gatherings. Sue knew how to listen, and she understood things like addiction, or broken hearts or just plain someone being tuckered out, and she kept a lot of us women going through some grubby days.

She loved the Baha’i Writings. Her favorite prayer was the Tablet of Ahmad and its wondrous phrase, “By God! Should one who is in affliction or grief read this Tablet with absolute sincerity, God will dispel his sadness, solve his difficulties and remove his afflictions.” She loved books about Abdul-Baha and Baha’u’llah, and she was steadfast and served. Finally, there’s a quote from the Seven Valleys, mystical writings of Baha’u’llah, “Dost thou reckon thyself only a puny form when within thee the universe is folded”? This quote personifies Sue. I hope I was worthy of her friendship. I loved her dearly.

Happy are ye, O ye the learned ones in Baha. By
the Lord! Ye are the billows of the Most Mighty
Ocean, the stars of the firmament of Glory, the
standards of triumph waving betwixt earth and
heaven. Ye are the manifestations of steadfastness
amidst men and the daysprings of Divine Utterance
to all that dwell on earth. Well is it with him that
turneth unto you, and woe betide the froward. This
day, it behoveth whoso hath quaffed the Mystic
Wine of everlasting life from the Hands of the
loving-kindness of the Lord his God, the Merciful,
to pulsate even as the throbbing artery in the body
of mankind, that through him may be quickened the
world and every crumbling bone.

~ Baha’u’llah,
The Kitab’i’Aqdas, p. 82, Paragraph 173

“O ye the learned ones in Baha…” #173

Bahá’u’lláh eulogizes the learned among His followers.
In the Book of His Covenant, He wrote: “Blessed are
the rulers and learned among the people of Baha.”
Referring to this statement, Shoghi Effendi has written:

In this holy cycle the “learned” are, on the one hand,
the Hands of the Cause of God, and, on the other,
the teachers and diffusers of His Teachings who do
not rank as Hands, but who have attained an eminent
position in the teaching work. As to the “rulers” they
refer to the members of the Local, National and
International Houses of Justice. The duties of each
of these souls will be determined in the future.

The Hands of the Cause of God were individuals
appointed by Bahá’u’lláh and charged with various
duties, especially those of protecting and propagating
His Faith. In Memorials of the Faithful ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
referred to other outstanding believers as Hands of
the Cause, and in His Will and Testament He included
a provision calling upon the Guardian of the Faith to
appoint Hands of the Cause at his discretion.
Shoghi Effendi first raised posthumously a number
of the believers to the rank of Hands of the Cause,
and during the latter years of his life appointed a total
of 32 believers from all continents to this position. In
the period between the passing of Shoghi Effendi in
1957 and the election of the Universal House of Justice
in 1963, the Hands of the Cause directed the affairs of
the Faith in their capacity as Chief Stewards of
Bahá’u’lláh’s embryonic World Commonwealth
(see note 67). In November 1964, the Universal House
of Justice determined that it could not legislate to
make it possible to appoint Hands of the Cause.
Instead, by a decision of the House of Justice in
1968, the functions of the Hands of the Cause in
relation to protecting and propagating the Faith
were extended into the future by the creation of
the Continental Boards of Counsellors, and in 1973
through the establishment of the International Teaching
Centre, which has its seat in the Holy Land. The
Universal House of Justice appoints the Counsellor
members of the International Teaching Centre and
the Continental Counsellors. Members of Auxiliary
Boards are appointed by the Continental Counsellors.
All these individuals fall within the definition of the
“learned” given by Shoghi Effendi in the statement
quoted above.

~ The Kitab-i-Aqdas, ‘Notes’, p. 246

http://www.news.bahai.org/photo/463
Photo of Hand of the Cause, Dr. Ali-Muhammad Varqa


BAHA’I WORLD LOSES MOST DISTINGUISHED MEMBER

HAIFA, Israel, 24 September 2007 (BWNS) — The worldwide Baha’i community has lost its most distinguished member with the death of Dr. Ali-Muhammad Varqa.

He passed away on the evening of 22 September 2007 at his home in Haifa.

In 1955, Dr. Varqa was appointed to the high rank of “Hand of the Cause” by Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Baha’i Faith. Dr. Varqa served in that capacity, on the international level, for 52 years until his passing. He was the last survivor of the 27 Hands of the Cause who were alive when Shoghi Effendi passed away in 1957.

Dr. Varqa came from a well-known Iranian family that has served the Baha’i Faith with distinction for generations. After obtaining a doctorate from the Sorbonne in Paris in 1950, he taught in Iran at the universities of Tabriz and Tehran and served the Baha’i community there in various administrative capacities. In 1979 he moved to Canada, and later established his residence in Haifa to serve at the Baha’i World Center.

He was born in 1912 in Tehran, Iran, and received his name from ‘Abdu’l-Baha in memory of his grandfather, who had been killed for being a follower of Baha’u’llah.

Dr. Varqa traveled to many countries as a representative first of Shoghi Effendi, then of the Universal House of Justice, the international governing council of the Baha’i Faith. In that capacity, Dr. Varqa attended the first national conventions held in Belgium, Luxembourg, the Congo, Mauritania, Central Africa Republic, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Czechoslovakia and Greenland.

Dr. Varqa is survived by three daughters and six siblings. His funeral was to take place the morning of 24 September, with burial in the Baha’i cemetery in Haifa.

To view the photos and additional features click here:
http://news.bahai.org

Confidential Iran memo exposes policy to deny Baha’i students university education
NEW YORK
27 August 2007 (BWNS)
The Baha’i International Community has received a copy of a confidential 2006 letter from Iran’s Ministry of Science, Research and Technology instructing Iranian universities to expel any student who is discovered to be a Baha’i.

The letter refutes recent statements by Iranian officials, who say Baha’i students in Iran face no discrimination – despite the fact that more than half of the Baha’i university students enrolled last autumn were gradually expelled over the course of the 2006-2007 academic year.

“This latest document, which flatly states that Baha’i students should be expelled from universities once they are discovered, proves unequivocally that Iranian authorities remain intent on utterly blocking the development of Iranian Baha’is, despite what they say to the outside world,” said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations.

“Along with other recently received reports and documents, the letter exposes a duplicitous campaign by Iran to pretend that it does not violate the internationally recognized right to education while, in fact, the government is actually continuing to implement its secret, long-term plan to prevent Baha’i students from obtaining a university education.

“Coupled with ongoing reports of physical and economic harassment directed against Baha’is of all ages and in all regions of the country, this latest development should serve to remind those who care about human rights that Iran’s 300,000-member Baha’i community remains gravely threatened,” she said.

“Not only Baha’is, but also others – students expelled under directives that target them on absolutely baseless grounds; women whose human rights are grossly violated through the enactment or perpetuation of discriminatory laws; and other victims of injustice in that land – need international defense,” she added.

The 2006 letter is from the Central Security Office of the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology (MSRT) and was issued by its director general, Asghar Zarei, to 81 universities around the country. Stamped “confidential,” the exact date of the letter is undecipherable, although its contents are legible. (Document 1 in list of original documents.)

“[I]f the identity of Baha’i individuals becomes known at the time of enrollment or during the course of their studies, they must be expelled from university,” states the letter, which was signed by Mr. Zarei. The Ministry of Science, Research and Technology oversees all state-run universities.

The directive flatly contradicts public and private statements of Iranian government officials over the last several years. They have sought to portray their educational system as open to Baha’is and free of discriminatory practices.

In early March, for example, newspapers carried a story by the Reuters news agency reporting that some 70 Baha’i students had been expelled from universities in Iran since autumn 2006.

In the Reuters story, however, an anonymous spokesperson for the Iranian Mission to the United Nations was quoted as saying in reply: “No one in Iran because of their religion has been expelled from studying.”

The number of 70 students expelled as of March 2007 as reported by Reuters has since risen to more than 128, out of approximately 200 who were enrolled last autumn after more than 25 years during which Baha’i students were banned from universities in Iran.

Last year, as well, deceitful statements by Iranian officials came to light when Clare Short, a member of Parliament in the United Kingdom, received a communication from Hamid Reza Arefi, the charge d’affaires of the Iranian Embassy in London, who likewise denied that Baha’is are discriminated against in their access to higher education in Iran.

“Although Bahaism [sic] is not recognized as an official religion but by law Baha’is are entitled to equal rights,” wrote Mr. Arefi in an 8 June 2006 letter to Ms. Short, adding: “In Iran, no individual is excluded from higher education solely because of his/her ideology.”

Similar statements have been made by Iranian diplomats and officials in other venues.

The 2006 letter from the MSRT’s Central Security Office also makes a clear reference to the secret 1991 Golpaygani memorandum about Baha’is, which was released to the public in 1993 by a United Nations official.(Document 5.)

Despite Mr. Arefi’s assurances that Iranian Baha’is are legally entitled to equal rights, other voices state that the Golpaygani memorandum takes precedence.

That 1991 memorandum outlined a comprehensive plan to “block” the development and progress of the Iranian Baha’i community. The 1991 memorandum states for example that Baha’is shall be denied “any position of influence” and that “employment shall be refused to persons identifying themselves as Baha’is.”

The 1991 memorandum states clearly that Baha’is “must be expelled from universities, either in the admission process or during the course of their studies, once it becomes known that they are Baha’is.”

Signed by Hujjatu’l Islam Seyyed Mohammad Golpaygani, secretary of the Iran Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council, the 1991 memorandum was approved by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. As such, it reflects the highest policy of the government.

A number of fair-minded Iranian individuals have offered sympathy and a measure of support for the plight of the Baha’is; however, they are largely powerless in the face of the official policy of the government to oppress the Baha’is, Ms. Dugal said.

“The Baha’i International Community asserts that unless and until the Iranian government revokes this pernicious document, there is little hope of any justice for the Baha’is of Iran,” she said.

The Baha’i International Community has also recently received several other documents and letters that clearly indicate the policy outlined in the 2006 letter is being actively implemented.

These documents include:

— A second, follow-up letter from the MSRT’s Central Security Office to officials at Payame Noor University, dated 17 March 2007, which instructs them to “prevent the enrollment of the Baha’i applicants.” (Document 2.)

— An 18 May 2007 letter from the academic counseling and higher education office at Guilan University to the director of university academic affairs, asking for the immediate discharge of a Baha’i student. (Document 4.)

— A 27 May 2007 letter, also from the academic counseling and higher education office at Guilan University, to the above-mentioned Baha’i student, notifying the student that she has been “disqualified” from studying at Guilan, as required by the 1991 Golpaygani memorandum. (Document 3.)

Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts.Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility.
Baha’i Writings

The essence of these words is this: they that tread the path of faith, they that thirst for the wine of certitude, must cleanse themselves of all that is earthly — their ears from idle talk, their minds from vain imaginings, their hearts from worldly affections, their eyes from that which perisheth. They should put their trust in God,and, holding fast unto Him, follow in His way.Then will they be made worthy of the effulgent glories of the sun of divine knowledge and understanding, and become the recipients of a grace that is infinite and unseen, inasmuch as man can never hope to attain unto the knowledge of the All-Glorious, can never quaff from the stream of divine knowledge andwisdom, can never enter the abode of immortality, nor partake of the cup of divine nearness and favour, unless and until he ceasesto regard the words and deeds of mortal men as a standard for the true understanding and recognition of God and His Prophets.

~ Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 3


Two quotes I love:

The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him… a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create — so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.
-Pearl S. Buck, novelist, Nobel laureate (1892-1973)
…….This Truth offers the wonderful opportunities of a Spiritual Dawn in which all things are become new and are presented in newly charming dress, but the truths themselves are as old as eternity and have been told to God’s creatures throughout their existence, in such guise as the varying conditions of the people, from time to time, permitted them to comprehend. But no more now than then is any “royal road” to Paradise offered. The path is strewn and hedged with thorns, although sweet roses bloom above them. The way is one of testing, trial and “fire” that “searches the reins” and tears away from us one beloved stronghold after another, until the very essence of the creature realizes its utter helplessness,  its nakedness, its need in the presence of its Maker. It must come to realize that every birth is through death, and that the spiritual birth can only be through the death of the natural self-desires……….

The view of Baha’i author Thorton Chase “Before Abraham Was I am” p. 1




Some pictures of Mt. Carmel and Acca from Pilgrimage!

I’ll put a couple of pictures on this blog; taken by Gary Badke, of British Columbia. he and his wife Joan were on pilgrimage with me. His website is www.badke.ca/windflowerflutes and he is a wonderful photographer.
i don’t know what pics i’ll put here, so i’ll be surprised too!

A lot of people need prayers. Some people need a “Happy Naw Ruz” also. So to my good friends who are Muslim and Baha’i, much love and joyous beginnings of a new year.
On the prayer front: certain my twin, Elizabeth, and a family in Pasadena. The great grandmother is our friend, Sara, and a long-time Baha’i. She’s lived in Africa, and China and been of great service to humanity. She’s in advanced stages of Alzheimers. Her daughter, whose name I’ll keep private, is one of the bravest, stand-up straight, tell the world what it’s like,” has had several strokes (she’s 50 ish) and cancer i think has returned. This daughter has a daughter who has a physical disability but who has taken to the helm and is caring for her grandmother in her apartment. They all live in the same apartment complex. The daughter went to the hospital yesterday; totally in pain, unable to eat for weeks, much more. Her youngest son who just graduated high school has been by her side. If ever this family needed prayers, it’s now, and loving help. So if you could that would be great. I will post a Healing Prayer as an image also. Blessings and love to you all; we are really part of one Great Fabric.

Halo Moon Meets HyperPhysics Over Falafel at the Mercaz
Esther Bradley-DeTally

I sit here at the top of Mercaz in Israel, in a small, dart-in, take-a-quick glance-to-the-left at a glass counter, a man stuffing a half pita with round crusty balls, and a cabinet filled with icy drinks, coke being my Falafel companion.

There’s no halo moon sitting inside besides me on my chair, my Pilgrimage badge tucked into a pocket, so maybe baby I won’t get overcharged as an innocent on her search for the proper Chickpeas – big round ones, resting on a bed of hummus, surrounded by lettuce and pickles and cabbage and onions and tomatoes like it’s the best Our Gang pita to hang out in.

Are you with me? How about these Hills of Haifa. Yeah, I’m a newly emerged mountain goat who just hoofed, cavorted her pilgrim heart right up to the Mercaz which is a shopping area in Haifa, to wolf down a falafel, remember the other day when Johnnie and I were here, and to find a few gifts to take home.

Pilgrimage is not always about whispering of the “Face of God,” which if you want to know, believe me, I’m not kidding, I found a phrase of that exact saying in a book I read today. Yesterday I said in my small writing, “There is no Face of God,” well if I’m lying, I’m dying; there in that book, small red-crimson cover, about the Blessed Beauty, it referred in small black ink that “Face of God,” is a title used for the Manifestations, Prophets, Messengers, Divine Educators of God, so I am not just whistling Dixie when I tell you, “Boy was I surprised.”

But hey back to the Falafel and me and relationships. Someone mentioned a halo moon, and I Googled it because I have empty spaces in that vat of a brain of mine that resemble someone who had half a head severed like logs going into big blades, and the part that was severed for me was math, science, biology, stuff with details, and makes me wonder, “Why did I only see my eyelashes in the microscope”?

Are you with me? So before I sit down and feel the hot crunch of chickpeas in the back of my throat, I am going to tell you this Google led me to click on Hyper Physics, and I thought that’s what I am as a poet; I am trying to connect all my words and images and feelings into a Hyper Physics mode where everything is interconnected.

So I say, I’m going to connect a Halo Moon because I feel pretty stuffed and fortified right now, cuz that coke and falafel hit the spot and make me feel round and as if I’m producing extra circular rays of satisfaction around my round spots, just like a Halo Moon. And I’m going to tell you this hoofer and hoper has been praying her brains out (well parts anyhow) and she’s praying for Peace, because as I said previously, it has been promised.

Now don’t give me any half hearted reply or responses that peace isn’t possible. Because if you do that, you’ve just been listening to all those boys at play on the planet who want parades and neon signs and national anthems, and bling, lots of bling so they won’t think of the real stuff that matters, like the soul and its journey either to falafels or hallowed White Spots, and do you think people, all of us on Planet Earth, can actually be stopped in our coming together, our hyperphysics dance of oneness, cuz aren’t we about creating an ever-advancing civilization. Are you with me?


March 19, 2007-first essay upon return-
What exactly was it I did hear in those silent moments where timeand the soul, my soul to be exact, took a ride to another dimensionand time flattened out and I stepped with stockinged foot and measured gait towards the Threshold of the Blessed Beauty.”I consented to be in chains that mankind be released from its bondage,” and I found my forehead resting upon a pure cloth, on which were scattered crimson rose petals, and a silence from the White Heat of God’s Face enwrapped me in a certitude.Outside of time, the soul’s hangout, I took in knowing, God has no face. I took in white plaster walls, silent curving lacy ferns yearning their way up to pristine skylight. I took in the Pilgrim’s stockinged feet from Turkey, Peru, Canada, China, feet carrying the beseeching heart for mankind’s ordered life to be revolutionized, galvanized into an everlasting peace and the beginning of the Advent of Divine Justice. Outside in the world, the leaders played, hurling rocks and phrases suggesting “My testosterone is bigger than yours,” but for a time,nine days to be exact, I listened to my footsteps across lightly molded curved pebbles, witnessing sounds of my feet across broken tiles, calling to mind brutalities of leaders gone by. Empires stopped, majesty stamped on gardens on Mt. Carmel, every leaf, every mineral opening up to serve the blessed feet of the ordinary humanity who will come together no matter what. No boys will be boys machinations can stop this quiet soundless step towards ouroneness, and besides the white heat from the Face of God, bleachingmy bones towards selflessness and service, a promise is made,viewed, and the silence shouts, over Akka, “the silver city” and to Mount Carmel, the “mountain of God” Isaiah’s call: “Get thee up into the high mountain, O Zion that brightest good tidings,” and David in his Psalms predicted, “Life up your heads, O ye gates…theKing of Glory shall come in,” and I call to mind whilst standing in thick dimensions of purity the words uttered to Orientalist, Professor E.G. Browne, words of light going into the world as beacons of hope, “These fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away and the “Most Great Peace” shall come.”

CXXX. Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility. 286

(Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 284)


“The winds of despair are, alas, blowing from every direction, and the strife that divideth and afflicteth the human race is daily increasing. The signs of impending convulions and chaos can now be discerned, inasmuch as the prevailing order appeareth to be lamentably defective. I beseech God, exalted be His glory, that He may graciously awaken the peoples of the earth, may grant that the end of their conduct may be profitable unto them, and aid them to accomplish that which beseemeth their station.”
Baha’u’llah


http://www.monasdream.com:80/
“Mona’s Dream” will be produced as a feature film by Jack Lenz this year. He is asking that youth everywhere arise to do what Mona has asked us to do: To gather together and create unity. To allow youth to have a voice, especially young women and girls, and to create service projects.

“We cannot segregate the human heart from the environment outside us and say that once one of these is reformed everything will be improved. Man is organic with the world. His inner life moulds the environment and is itself deeply affected by it. The one acts upon the other and every abiding change in the life of man is the result of these mutual reactions.”

Shoghi Effendi, through his Secretary to an individual believer
from a letter dated 17 February 1933

“The more we search for ourselves, the less likely we are to find ourselves; and the more we search for God, and to serve our fellow-men, the more profoundly will we become acquainted with ourselves, and the more inwardly assured. This is one of the great spiritual laws of life.”

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, to an individual believer, February 18, 1954, Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p.114)

From every standpoint the world of humanity is undergoinga re-formation. The laws of former governments and civilizations are in process of revision. Scientific ideas and theories are developing and advancing to meet a new range of phenomena.

Invention and discovery are penetrating hitherto unknown fields revealing new wonders and hidden secrets of the material universe. Industries have vastly wider scope and production. Everywhere the world of mankind is in the throes of evolutionary activity indicating the passing of the old conditions and advent of the new age of re-formation. Old trees yield no fruitage; old ideas and methods are obsolete and worthless now. Old standards of ethics, moral codes and methods of living in the past will not suffice for the present age of advancement and progress.

This is the cycle of maturity and re-formation in religion as well. Dogmatic imitations of ancestral beliefs are passing. They have been the axis around which religion revolved but now are no longer fruitful. On the contrary, in this day they have become the cause of human degradation and hindrance. Bigotry and dogmatic adherence to ancient beliefs have become the centra land fundamental source of animosity among men, the obstacleto human progress, the cause of warfare and strife, the destroyerof peace, composure and welfare in the world…… Abdu’l-Baha Foundations of World Unity p. 10

My two themes as indicated by this quote and the previous one seem to be about healing. Sometimes themes call to me, to us, for reflection and wishing the wellbeing of all I know. How is it with you?

“We should all visit the sick. When they are in sorrow and suffering, it is a real help and benefit to have a friend come. Happiness is a great healer to those who are ill.In the East it is the custom to call upon the patient often and meet him individually. The people in the East show the utmost kindness and compassion to the sick and suffering. This has greater effect than the remedy itself.You must always have this thought of love and affection when you visit the ailing and affected.” Baha’i Writings

From the Baha’i Writings:

“Looking after one’s health is done with two intentions. Man may take good care of his body for the purpose of satisfying his personal wishes. Or, he may look after his health with the good intention of serving humanity and of living long enough to perform his duty toward mankind. The latter is most commendable.”
“Between material things and spiritual things there is a connection. The more healthful his body the greater will be the power of the spirit of man; the power of the intellect, the power of the memory, the power of reflection will then be greater.”

“All men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization. The Almighty beareth Me witness: To act like the beasts of the field is unworthy of man. Those virtues that befit his dignity are forbearance, mercy, compassion and loving kindness towards all the peoples and kindreds of the earth.” Baha’u’llah


A Joyous Holy Day To All Yes! This is the day of Bahá’u’lláh, the age of theBlessed Perfection, the cycle of the Greatest Name.If you do not smile now, for what time will you awaitand what greater happiness could you expect? Thisis the springtime of manifestation. The vernal showerhas descended from the cloud of divine mercy; thelife-giving breeze of the Holy Spirit is wafting theperfume of blossoms. From field and meadow risesa fragrant breath of thanksgiving like pure incenseascending to the throne of God. The world has becomea new world; souls are quickened, spirits renewed,refreshed. Truly it is a time for happiness. Abdu’l-Baha The Promulgation of Universal Peace p. 210… Find here a beautiful presentation for the Holy Day!

http://www.nybahai.org/bahaullah/birthofbahaullah.html


God in his wisdom has created all things. Nothing has been created without a special destiny, for every creature has an innate station of attainment. This flower has been created to mirror forth a harmonious ensemble of color and perfume. Each kingdom of nature holds potentialities and each must be cultivated in order to reach its fulfillment. The divine teachers desire man to be educated that he may attain to the high rank of his own reality, the deprivation of which is the rank of perdition.

The flower needs light that it may achieve its fruitage; man needs the light of the Holy Spirit, and the measure of illumination throughout creation is proportionate to the different kingdoms.

Abdu’l-Baha Divine Philosophy p. 110


Martine is there now, John is working there. He bumped into her today at the Gardens, wrapped in a haze of beauty and peace! March 5th I will commence my 9 day Pilgrimage!

Leave February 23, 2007 for Frankfurt; arrive Feb 2, wait for Vera and Dom (be still my heart). Stay with them in Manheim? maybe see Lena and Fema from Berlin? That would be a wow. go to Frankfurt House of Worship; meet maybe horticulturalist there; she’s in my computer writing group. Go to Haifa March 4, maybe i can track down Helen’s nephew – start Pilgrimage March 5; leave Haifa 14th, stay one night hotel in Frankfurt, and fly next morning to LAX; wow; a biggy!

“Never let the odds keep you from pursuing what you know in your heart you were meant to do.”

– Satchel Paige

From the Baha’i Writings …

“The herb is not without its fruit, althought it seemeth so, for in this garden of God every plant exerteth its own influence and hath its own properties, and every plant can even match the laughing, hundred-petalled rose in rejoicing the sense with its fragrance. Be thou assured of this. Although the pages of a book know nothing of the words and the meanings traced upon them, even so, because of their connection with these words, friends pass them reverently from hand to hand. this connection, furthermore, is purest bounty.”

… Thus shall a sorry gnat become an eagle in the fulness of his strength, and a feeble sparrow change to a royal falcon in …

I fell in love with that quote years ago, and in fact, I laughed out loud when I read it, and said to myself, “That’s it! I’m a sorry gnat,” and today I can say I am the happiest Sorry Gnat. email from David re Melanie who is on second part of presenting modules of her curriculum in Africa, and then she goes to Haifa for a brief visit. It turns out Johnnie will be leaving for Haifa next Wednesday and I gave Dave his information to tell Melanie and will tell Johnnie also. Two of my soul friends will meet. Hooray!

We walked second day in a row along the paths of Bidwell Park. Some days you see deer, not today, tho Bill said he saw 2 vultures. Some trees knocked down, huge ones, and there’s a feathery lack of care over the whole scene so we can appreciate it in its blowsy nature look, not like the clipped manicured paths and surroundings in urban areas. It fills us, me and Bill, and we have to get back in shape. Walking with very low blood pressure mine (so as not to stress my aortic valve) feels somewhat like moving a truck up hill slowly, but i am sure things will get better. we are with sue and ralph, our dear dear friends, frail and into the final frontier of agedom, and valient; a good example. We will toot downtown and go to one of the best used bookstores around! If i find any good images, I’ll put em up.

Lesley A. Cottle

“My pictures are all drawn with pencil crayon and depict ‘inner landscapes’. They tend to reflect my own spiritual journey and inspiration has come from various religious sources including the Baha’i Writings.”

——————————————————————————–

This site is jointly produced and maintained by James Herbert and The Vision Factory. All art is copyright of the respective artist.

Subject: Baha’i Writings — Warring For Our Tombs


…..How is it possible for men to fight from morning until evening, killing each other, shedding the blood of their fellow-men: And for what object? To gain possession of a part of the earth! …….. How terrible it is that men, who are of the higher kingdom, can descend to slaying and bringing misery to their fellow-beings, for the possession of a tract of land! The highest of created beings fighting to obtain the lowest form of matter, earth! Land belongs not to one people, but to all people. This earth is not man’s home, but his tomb. It is for their tombs these men are fighting. There is nothing so horrible in this world as the tomb, > the abode of the decaying bodies of men.


Abdu’l-Baha Paris Talk p. 28

The greatest cause of bereavement and disheartening in the world of humanity is ignorance based upon blind imitation. It is due to this that wars and battles prevail; from this cause hatred and animosity arise continually among mankind.

(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, “29 August 1912, Talk at Home of Madame Morey, 34 Hillside Avenue, Malden, Massachusetts, Notes by Edna McKinney”)
Watched tv tonight re terrorists; some of it was corroborated by books i’ve read at library; scary and only one point of view; and then i came across this quote; we don’t grow when we blindly imitate, but society is slow to change and so we adjust to wars, skermishes like frogs sitting in water which gradually heats us to death;
oh dear! just came from Interfaith gathering; good; intense, but good; too tired to talk.

…If the learned and worldly-wise men of this age were to allow mankind to inhale the fragrance of fellowship and love, every understanding heart would apprehend the meaning of true liberty, and discover the secret of undisturbed peace and absolute composure.

Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 162

Good morning Morning Glories;

From time to time, I am putting quotes up that I find vital and also am scanning a good fiction writing book and am definitely putting that on this blog (Tyler are you
listening). The day begins. I am a bit subdued but busy; Johnnie coming at 10.30 to help set up this blog.

Hugs for now,

Esther