Opinion

Entries arguing a particular point of view

Imagine


Imagine, by Rachel Boden

Imagine what the Bahá’í Faith might become if its idols were stripped away. What if the burden of divine authority were cleansed from every portrait, every image, every institution, and every holy word?

Imagine there’s no Cov’nant. It isn’t hard to do.

What if the Bahá’í religion were not a cult of divine images (“manifestations”), but rather a fellowship of principles (or virtues)? What if Bahá’u'lláh had said, “never mind about me and my station; let’s get down to the business of world reform.”

I know. It’s a stretch.

If Bahá’ís were to forfeit their sense of divine entitlement, would they lose their famous, unquenchable sense of purpose?

Full story...

Evolving to individualism

This posting briefly explains two different ways in which the Enlightenment and its fruits in Western societies can be viewed, in relation to the goal of building a Bahai society. It argues that our attitude to the political philosophy of individualism will influence the Bahai communities we build, and suggests that it is possible to see the individualisation of society, individualism and other aspects of the Enlightenment as positive elements of the new order, rather than as signs of the breakdown of the old order.

Introduction

{josquote}One of the most far-reaching changes of the past two centuries has been the individualisation of society.{/josquote}

All of us have a “world-view.” That is, we do not get up every morning and decide afresh what we think of the world, how it should be, how society works, and what things are important. Rather, we view today’s world within a coherent framework derived from our own past, and inherited from those who have gone before us. Our world-view contains experience, values and norms, some of which we have consciously chosen, and also a good deal of inherited wisdom about life and society, along the lines of “early to bed and early to rise,” “the family is the foundation of society,” or “good fences make good neighbours.” Our religions are part of our world-views, and not vice-versa, because we interpret religious teachings within a framework of assumptions about what society is, the role of religion in society, and the relationship of the individual to both. A world-view is an overall view of human history, of where we have come from, where we are or should be going to, and why. It is not a socio-political agenda to be adopted or cast off at will, but a bundle of answers to our most existential questions.

Full story...

What Would 'Abdu'l-Baha Eat?

Right in time for Thanksgiving, that annual ritual of mass consumption, is a fascinating piece in the Daily Mail about Christian inspired dieting:

New diet fads constantly offer hope to the unhappily overweight, before fading away, leaving only disappointed expectations and stubborn flab.

The more extreme the eating plan, the more keenly it's adopted - until its followers realise that measuring portions with a thimble isn't sustainable in the long term.

But there's a new diet trend which claims dizzyingly high success rates, promises painless life-long commitment and allows dieters to eat anything they want.

Faith-based diets take the principles of Christianity and apply them to our overwhelming craving for chocolate, chips and cheese.

Advocates say dieters learn to fill the spiritual hole inside themselves with something more powerful than saturated fats.

{josquote}The basic principle ... is that dieters need to identify the deeper reasons why they over-eat...{/josquote}

The basic principle common to the U.S. programmes Christian Weigh Down and Thin Within ('Helps you grow in faith while shrinking your waistline'), and the British equivalent Fit For Life Forever, is that dieters need to identify the deeper reasons why they over-eat, before they can hope to lose weight and keep it off permanently.

Full story...

Will Social Conservativism Go Quietly?


Andrew Oh-Willeke

Faith Gets Mushy

I don't usually think much of the Parade supplement in the Sunday paper (I call it the "Stupid Pages" because its analysis is often shallow), but its poll on spirituality described by Christine Wicker in her story How Spiritual Are We? was notable for showing the mushiest Christian scene in the United States that I've seen after following these polls for decades.

The poll showed that 69% of Americans believe in God, 7% aren't sure if God exists, 5% don't believe in God, and 19% have some other answer to that question. About 12% don't believe in an afterlife. About 12% say no religion is valid.

{josquote}The beliefs of the majority of Americans are in line with the doctrines of Free Masonry and the Baha'i: God exists, all religions have validity, and religious toleration is best.{/josquote}

About 23% don't pray outside religious services, and about 25% don't believe it's a parent's responsibility to give children a religious upbringing. About 24% see themselves as "spiritual but not religious." About 22% say that religion is not a factor in their lives; another 22% said that religion was "in their lives but not particularly important." About 41% of Americans say that religion has too often led to war and suffering. About 50% say that they attend religious services rarely or never. 59% say that all religions are valid and 58% think that religion and politics should not mix. About 22% would consider converting to another religion, and 82% said that they would consider marrying someone of a different faith.

Full story...

Does Religion Contribute to Material Well Being?

Bryan posted a great piece analyzing conservatism in America. I can't link to it because it is on facebook. Anyway, an interesting discussion evolved in the comments section between Bryan and myself, who are Baha'is, and Mavaddat Javid, who is an ex-Baha'i. It is generally about the problems in the world and the role religion (specifically the Baha'i Faith) will or will not play in solving them. I have decided to bring the conversation over here to get more people involved and to get more room for commenting. The comments so far are reposted below.

Please feel free to contribute to the discussion in the comments section.

Full story...