Individuals and groups

Individuals and groups whose story doesn't fit into any other category.

Baha'i community's roots encompass major religions

Sitting in the basement of a Grand Rapids home across Fulton Street from Aquinas College, a pair of longtime Baha'i followers tutored a Catholic in the ways of their faith. Atop a television set amid a wall of certificates and family photographs, an image of Abdu'l-Baha looked over them.

{josquote}"This is not the Voice of division and damnation," reads a passage in her "Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah" study pamphlet. "It is the Voice of love and unity."{/josquote}

"He's the center of our covenant with God," Nancy Cook explained.

"Oh," said Candi Obetts, a 42-year-old stay-at-home mother of two who has been studying Baha'i for the past month.

Abdu'l-Baha, Cook continued, is the "most mighty branch," the "incorruptible medium," the "trust of God" and an "ancient and immutable mystery." He is the "master," the "herald of peace" and the "advocate of oneness."

"Wow, that's a lot of nicknames," Obetts said.

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Uganda: Making Money And Music

I have been out of Uganda since 1995, when I left for the US as part of the African Cultural Exchange that needed Ugandan artistes to represent Uganda. Before that I had been part of Christopher Mukiibi's group, the Theatrikos, from 1990 when I was a very young boy. All these people: Steve Jean, Abu Kawenja now of CBS... we used to perform at Sheraton Hotel together back in those days!

Lessons learnt

Mukiibi taught me that art was not something to be done by bayaye. When I went to do an interview with his group, he insisted that I get a proper haircut and buy shoes instead of the torn sandals I had come in, relaxed because this was just acting. That's why today I am wearing a tie.

Complications in America

But this lady who was supposed to look after us was not ready for the group that came over. The group was too large for her to feed and house all of us well so we all ended up sleeping in one place, going hungry. Life was tough but I was restless. I could not stay in one place like that so I used to be out on the street.

It was while on the street one day that I met a member of the Baha'i faith called Jerry who was asking for directions to the Baha'i temple. The Baha'i temple happened to be near where we were staying so I took him there. It was while we were walking there that I told him I was from Uganda and that changed everything!

A Lucky break

He was instantly interested in me because the only Baha'i temple in Africa is in Uganda and I had grown up near the temple here. He wanted to know where I was staying and when I told him, he insisted I take him to meet my fellow Ugandans. It was 1:00am when we got back.

But from that time, all the Ugandans started going to the Baha'i temple because we were being given food. Many of them ended up joining the Baha'i faith and becoming powerful preachers. In America, you have to do whatever you can to be able to eat!

The New Faith

Jerry, that white guy, is someone I'm so grateful to because it was through him that I got to meet a woman who was very important in my life, a woman who became like a mother to me because she taught me how to make money in the US.

All the money I have I got it because of her mentoring. I'm the owner of three registered companies in the US and one of them, Iris Homes and International Financing, employs 200 people. I have been able to do all this because of Linda Assahf, who owned Cappuccino Express.

Relentlessly persecuted, Bahá'ís keep the faith

It was the summer of 1982 when a college student in India named Shohreh Moldenhauer stopped receiving letters from her father. She knew that he, like most Bahá'í living in her native Iran after the 1979 revolution and installation of an Islamic republic, was in danger, and she hoped his silence meant he had fled the country.

But Moldenhauer's father, an officer in the Iranian Army, had not escaped. He had stayed behind to care for widows and orphans of men killed by the new regime. In his final correspondence, he urged his daughter not to return home until Iran's political climate cooled. Soon after the letters stopped arriving, Moldenhauer learned her father had been arrested, tortured and executed by Iranian authorities when he refused to renounce his faith.

{josquote}When asked about her life, Moldenhauer tells a story spanning four generations. She starts with her grandfather's imprisonment in Siberia and ends with her son's survival.{/josquote}

He was not the first or the last member of Moldenhauer's family to suffer persecution. Her grandfather, mother and younger brother all died at an early age in a country where Bahá'ís have lived as an oppressed minority for over 150 years. She repeatedly turned to her religion - ironically the reason for her family's persecution in the first place - for answers. Its tenants (sic) ultimately helped her heal, and later brought her to America. While such a life could have easily left Moldenhauer with an acerbic taste in her mouth, she relates her story in a bright cadence, pausing frequently to laugh.

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Website for Sen McGlinn

I became a Bahai in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1974 and was part of the small Bahai community of Kaikoura, a coastal town on New Zealand’s South Island. Later I spent some time as a Bahai ‘pioneer’ on the Chatham Islands, and was part of the Bahai communities in various other towns in New Zealand, and later in the Netherlands.

I have served on Local Spiritual Assemblies, as an ‘assistant,’ and on local and regional Bahai committees. I am currently a moderator for the H-Bahai discussion list, and can usually be found for a chin-wag on the Talisman9 discussion list (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). In late 2005 I was removed from the rolls of the Bahai community, following a decision of the Universal House of Justice. The reasons for this are not clear to me, and I would prefer not to say anything I am not sure of. I continue as a believing and practicing unenrolled Bahai.

I am interested especially in Bahai theology (theology is what Bahais usually call ‘deepening,’ but conducted in a systematic and self-critical way) and, within that, in political theology (which Bahais call ‘the social teachings’). I wrote my MA dissertation on Church and State in Islam and the Bahai Faith, and am now working on a study of the institutions of the Bahai community, which is intended to become a PhD thesis.

The ‘published’ page is a list of things I’ve written, most of it published in journals and books, and not necessarily up to date or complete.

The ‘resources’ page has links to some compilations and resources for the academic study of the Bahai Faith. The ‘stuff I’ve written’ page has links to articles, conference presentations and research notes I’ve written, on Bahai and other religious topics.

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Dreaming Away at Balchik Palace

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The palace of Queen Marie of Romania has grown into the emblem of the Bulgarian coastal town of Balchik. It has a unique garden, one of richest on the Balkans. Photo by Yuliana Nikolova (Sofia Photo Agency)
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The concept of harmony between man and nature was the foundation, on which the palace at the coastal town of Balchik was built, while the Baha'i cult to beauty breathed life into it. Turning into reality the dreams of an eccentric Romanian queen - Marie of Edinburgh.

The construction of the palace, later to be called "The Quiet Nest", began in 1924, when the region of Southern Dobrudzha was still in the hands of Romania. Armies of experts from Italy, Switzerland, Bulgaria and Romania were gathered together to draw on their skills in architecture, gardening, stone-cutting and painting and turn the unique steep slope of stones over the Balchik Gulf into an extraordinary piece of architectural art and a refreshing oasis amidst the dryness of Dobrudzha plateau.

It is a small surprise that Queen Marie of Romania picked this wild and picturesque spot over the Balchik Gulf to live and dream away. It was its virginity and romanticism that captured her heart and imagination, while roaming through Romania's newly conquered areas.

The Baha'i teaching, whose fervent follower the queen was, preached that all religions can be united for the sake of beauty. The palace, together with downtown Sofia, is one of the few places in the world where Christianity and Muslimism live peacefully together and complement each other. Here the visitor can see the white minaret of a mosque, sporting a weathercock on its edged top, right next to the dome of a Christian church.

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