Material about a variety of faith traditions

Was Being a Baha'i and Latter-day Saint Blasphemy?

Social issues week, for those new to the Congregation, is when I face the challenges of each faith head-on. I spend the first two weeks getting comfortable with the faith and its people, and inshallah, its people also get comfortable with me. Now, I start tackling the tough issues and ask the hard questions. In a way, I’m simulating a process I believe every spiritual seeker should go through.

So to kick things off, I want to do something a little different: I want to look back on what/who I’ve been this year in relation to who I am this month. In other words, what do I think of each religion I’ve given myself to now that I am a Muslim?

{josquote}So from this standpoint, mostly everything up until Islam is revealed in Arabia is good to go. But what about those folks who came after Muhammad?{/josquote}

First of all, we need to make some categories. Within Islam, we roughly have the religions that were revealed before Muhammad showed up and those that came afterward.

Before Islam: Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Buddhism

After Islam: Baha’i, Latter-day Saints

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A sculpture for the World's Religions by Andreas Rimkus
in cooperation with the Council of Religions Hanover

Patron: Mayor Stephan Weil

Opening: 26 May 2011, 10.15 clock, the World's Fair in Hanover.

In the steel sculpture "Please wait a minute" to make the six in the House of religions represented in Hanover against religions: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Baha'i.

The man at the center of the three-meter high stainless steel sculpture walk. By touching sensors he delves into the world of religions. In six languages, he can learn about the basic teachings of religions: German, Turkish, Russian, Spanish, English and Arabic.

The lyrics were written by the Council of Religions in Hanover, took on the challenge of presenting the religion in one minute thirty. "Basically, all religions pursue the same goal, namely peace," says the artist Andreas Rimkus from Jump. "This has inspired me to this work."

The sculpture is first shown at four locations in Hanover. Later they will tour through Germany and are positioned in places where people often have to wait.

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Unitarian Universalists Need to "Get Religion"

The Unitarian Universalist Association recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. Predictably, this event triggered a flurry of discussion by religion reporters about the perennial questions UUs face, such as “Is Unitarian Universalism a real religion? Do UUs believe in anything? Can a church with vague beliefs survive and grow?”

As an article in the Washington Post put it:

For 50 years, the UUA has conducted a virtually unprecedented experiment: advancing a religion without doctrine and hoping that welcoming communities and shared political causes, not creeds, will draw people to its pews.

Leaders say its no-religious-questions-asked style positions the UUA to capitalize on liberalizing trends in American religion. But as the UUA turns 50 this year, some members say a “midlife” identity crisis — trying to be all things to everyone — is hampering outreach and hindering growth.

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Can a creedless religion make it another 50 years?

BALTIMORE (RNS) A recent Sunday service at the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore ended with an apology.

Laurel Mendes explained that religious doctrine had been duly scrubbed from the hymns in the congregation’s Sunday program.

But Mendes, a neo-pagan lay member who led the service, feared that a reference to God in “Once to Every Soul and Nation” might still upset the humanists in the pews.

“I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable by reciting something that might be considered a profession of faith,” said Mendes, 52, after the service. “We did say `God,’ which you don’t often hear in our most politically correct hymns.”

Welcome to a typical Sunday in the anything-but-typical Unitarian Universalist Association, a liberal religious movement with a proud history of welcoming all seekers of truth—as long as it’s spelled with a lowercase “t.”

Dramatic readings from the biography of 20th-century labor leader John L. Lewis? Sure. An altar crowded with Christian, Buddhist, Islamic and Jewish symbols? Absolutely. God-talk? Umm, well ...

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Finding my Baha’i

Unexpected: the term I found on the tip of my tongue, after departing the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette, IL. The infrastructure, itself, stands amidst suburban surroundings; its white, geometrically inscribed dome rises into the sky. One of my favorite moments of the trip was a quiet, relaxing walk through the House of Worship’s gardens. With not a cloud to be seen and flowers in bloom, I began to convince myself that it might actually be May. The building’s interior had as much to appreciate as its gardens. It was simple, and unlike any place of worship I had ever entered. Natural light beamed in through the nine entrances. Elegant, white curtains hung, swaying in the afternoon’s breeze, from lofted windows.

Silence: Individuals sat scattered throughout the circular room in pink, velvet chairs in meditative silence. The first sound to enter the room was a choir selection; soft hymns rang, a cappella. The “Pray Devotions” commenced and words of the faith’s are most recent, acknowledged Messenger of God, Baha’u’llah, were read: readings that call for reflection and God’s praise. It is a quiet, internal praise and the room is at peace. After thirty, short minutes, the devotional prayer has finished and there is a fresh feeling in the air. For me, it happened all too fast.

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