Salon is carrying a terrific interview, titled The atheist delusion, with of all people a Catholic theologian. His is an analysis that I've been wanting to be brilliant enough to make about the three atheists, and the concept of science and/vs. religion in general. One of the issues he brings up is the concept of extreme atheism leading to nihilism, as demonstrated in the works of Nietzshe, Sartre, and Camus. I want to add one more person to his list: Dostoyevsky.
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The Descent Into Nihilism
Religion as Social Force
"Should the lamp of religion be obscured, chaos and confusion will ensue, and the lights of fairness, of justice, of tranquillity and peace cease to shine." Bahá'u'lláh
I was struck by this quote today and had to go look it up. It looks as though this translation was first published in a letter written by Bahá'u'lláh's great-grandson, Shoghi Effendi. More recently it was used in the seminal work The Promise of World Peace:
Writing of religion as a social force, Bahá'u'lláh said: "Religion is the greatest of all means for the establishment of order in the world and for the peaceful contentment of all that dwell therein." Referring to the eclipse or cor- ruption of religion, he wrote: "Should the lamp of religion be obscured, chaos and confusion will ensue, and the lights of fairness, of justice, of tranquillity and peace cease to shine." In an enumeration of such consequences the Bahá'í writings point out that the "perversion of human nature, the degradation of human conduct, the corruption and dissolution of human institutions, reveal themselves, under such circumstances, in their worst and most revolting aspects. Human char- acter is debased, confidence is shaken, the nerves of discipline are relaxed, the voice of human conscience is stilled, the sense of decency and shame is obscured, conceptions of duty, of solidarity, of reciprocity and loyalty are distorted, and the very feeling of peacefulness, of joy and of hope is gradually extinguished."
Suffering, Evil and the Existence of God (Stanley Fish)
Professor Stanley Fish writes about two new books addressing the question of the existence of evil in his NY Times article Suffering, Evil and the Existence of God. It is a useful review of two works that present an intriguing counterpoint to each other. Not surprisingly there is quite a bit of debate in the comments, most of it anti-religious.
Green Acre - The Future Center of Baha'i Learning in North America
Green Acre Bahá'í School, in far southern Maine, is already a center of learning. But one day it will be the Bahá'í center of learning in North America, or so, prophetically, has 'Abdu'l-Bahá said. Perhaps "exhortationally" is more accurate than "prophetically", since his prophetic words are themselves a directive to the Bahá'ís. And when you think about the number of colleges and universities that will need to be built in coming years in order to meet the demand of an ever-growing population, you realize it is not at all infeasible that there will, one day, be highly-respected school here.
The Harriet and Curtis Kelsey Center, photo via Bahá'í Media Bank
Ahmadinejad and the Baha'is of Iran
Typical political response: when asked about the treatment of Bahá'ís in his country, Iranian President Ahmadinejad's answer completely dodged the question. Nevertheless, his answer spoke volumes — I'll let you interpret for yourselves. Whilst searching for any tidbits from today's "debate," I also ran into an interesting article about President Ahmadinejad and the secretive Hujetieh society to which he belongs, whose primary purpose seems to be the destruction of the Bahá'í Faith.
Can a Muslim Be a Good American?
I'm sure there are plenty of people who have debunked this already, but I'll add my take. I received a forwarded e-mail that asked this question and proposed a set of ridiculous assertions pointing to an answer of "no." This came from a family member and normally I just ignore his messages. I couldn't bite my tongue on this one though.
Simply put, I have known too many good Muslims not to respond to the many misconceptions and incorrect assertions in the points that follow.
On Organizing a Response to Linguistic Violence Against Religion
Responding to an e-mail discussion that started with the article Islamic Fascism: The Propaganda of Our Times.
There is little doubt that the language we use and hear shapes our perceptions — and action — in the wider world (cf Sapir-Whorf hypothesis). Is it accurate to call someone who is a "terrorist", who is a Muslim, and who is motivated by his religious beliefs, an "Islamic terrorist?"
Missed Opportunity - Baha'i Connection to the Shi'a Mahdi
Its been weeks since I've updated this site, thanks to an over-abundance of work. At some point this month, the repeat visitor will have noticed, I finally finished my yearly overhaul of the site. I'm quite pleased with the new look; hope you enjoy it too.
Yesterday I was reading about For Iran’s Shiites, a Celebration of Faith and Waiting, thinking sadly that the author had missed a real opportunity to educate the world about the status of the Bahá'ís of Iran. He mentions the Faith, but goes no further.
Reflections on the Religious Concept of "Covenant"
I went out to lunch with a relatively new Bahá'í today. What a gorgeous day it is too, after a much needed downpour over night. Before going out, I sat down this morning to reflect on the Covenant and write down a few quotations to take with me (a concept any Indiana Jones fan can tell you about). In my thoughts, I was guided toward the notion of love as expressed in the Covenant, particularly after recently finishing Moojan Momen's new biography of Bahá'u'lláh, wherein Bahá'u'lláh's love for the believers — and all of humanity — came through strongly (full review forthcoming).
New Biography of Baha'u'llah
Off and on I've been trying to choose a biography of Bahá'u'lláh and have run across a new entry: Baha'u'llah: A Short Introduction. The author, Moojan Momen, is a consummate scholar; I'm guessing his full background in Persian religious history will provide some much-needed context to events, places, and social currents. I'm looking forward to its arrival in a week or two. Barnabas quotidianus has an excellent review.