Virtues

Justice

morning sun on bush

In this audio, I discuss the concept of justice and how it is similar to the concept of detachment. Both concepts are central to Baha'u'llah's revelation.

The idea of justice presupposes that a person is not swayed by bias, prejudice or corruption from looking at a matter in a straightforward and fair manner. Similarly, detachment from the world requires that we not allow ourselves to be swayed by anything in the world from turning to God. To achieve this, Baha'u'llah talks about the need for us to free ourselves from feelings of love and hate, for these can both steer us away from the truth.

As is often the case, Baha'u'llah acts as a sort of psychologist by teaching us the correct way to perceive the world and the correct inner states to adopt when responding to the world.

Full story...

On death and dying and the Mongrel Mob

MARK OF THE MOB: Dennis Makalio sits the grave of a Mongrel Mob member at Whenua Tapu cemetery. He plans to challenge a proposed ban on offensive insignia on headstones

You may know i spend a bit of time in cemeteries. Perhaps that is why i noticed two recent minor news stories that were televised here, about death, grief and reverence.

The first was about the headstone of the grave of James Kingi, member of the Mongrel Mob gang. There had been objections to the city council about this headstone, which carried Mongrel Mob insignia. A woman whose relative was buried next to James felt the headstone was offensive. The council was considering a bylaw against offensive headstones.

Full story...

The Bait and Switch of Contemporary Christianity

{josquote}I truly want people to spend time working on their relationship with God. I just want them to do it by taking the time to care about the person standing right in front of them.{/josquote}

The trouble with contemporary Christianity is that a massive bait and switch is going on. "Christianity" has essentially become a mechanism for allowing millions of people to replace being a decent human being with something else, an endorsed "spiritual" substitute. For example, rather than being a decent human being the following is a list of some commonly acceptable substitutes:
Going to church
Worship
Praying
Spiritual disciplines (e.g., fasting)
Bible study
Voting Republican
Going on spiritual retreats
Reading religious books
Arguing with evolutionists
Sending your child to a Christian school or providing education at home
Using religious language
Avoiding R-rated movies
Not reading Harry Potter.

Full story...

A richer nation

In a couple of weeks, New Zealand will have a general election. One of the political parties here is the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand, and I have been impressed by their billboards. The slogan on the boards says "For a richer New Zealand" and the picture is of a young boy with his hands on his hips and a big bright smile, standing in a rural setting in front of trees and a small stream in which a family is fishing. The graphic is lovely and sunny and colourful. (See the graphic here. Note, it's one of three that comes up in rotation.)

Steve and I have commented to each other about how wonderfully subversive the billboard is. It plays on the concept of what it means to be rich. Nothing in the graphic suggests rich in a material sense. It is suggesting that the family -- and ourselves by extension because they are in a public place -- are rich for they and we have access to an established and healthy natural environment. The graphic tells us that it is this that makes us rich, not money.

Full story...

Powerlessness and God's power

I've been thinking a great deal recently about my powerlessness and God's power. The issue came to a head when I was writing an introduction to Surah of the Almighty, in which Baha'u'llah says:

"God will render anyone who reflects the effulgence of this Name powerful over all things, to the extent that if he were to instruct all things to turn upside down, they would do so. If he should wish to conquer all beings by the power of his will, he would be enabled to accomplish it by the might of his Lord. This is, verily, a grace for all to see."

I didn't know what to make of it because I had never experienced anything like what is described here. I also thought that it couldn't be taken literally for I've never seen any Baha'i with such power - even Baha'u'llah opted to appear to the world as powerless, even though he wasn't. He argued that if he showed the world the real power he had, no one would disbelieve. So what to make of this passage?

Full story...