Anti-biotics and Pesticides - safnet

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The organic-bandwagon (and "green" in general) can often seem like a holier-than-thou verbal assault to the average consumer who does not take production processes into account when making purchasing decisions. Moralizing and preaching from the crunchy-granola crowd is not appreciated. And yet there is a point to it all, and we granola eaters need to be armed not merely with facts but also empathy and moderation. That said, often times we are armed merely with anecdote and conjecture, not even fact. Two recent pieces of research present compelling additional facts behind American society's – and by extension, increasingly the world's – over-reliance on technology without consideration of the long term effects:

  1. Over-use of anti-biotics in children have been linked to increases in asthma, obestity, and various diseases; in response, we simply need to be much more careful about our use of anti-biotics, which are frequently employed as a placebo in viral cases. LA Times covarge, full essay is in Nature, whose August 25th podcast has a good briefing.
  2. Consumption of pesticide-tainted foods has now been found to be a risk-factor in development of ADHD; the clear response is to consume organic foods. MSNBC coverage

Over-preparation and Mindfulness - safnet


This afternoon I heard an interview with Thich Nhat Hanh, from the public radio Humankind program, that is helping me frame a response I've been thinking about over the last few days. On Facebook, I posted: "Over-preparation only guarantees that you don't have time to live in the moment. That you don't have time to make a better world today, or to appreciate God's handiwork just beyond your nose and all around. From a comment to a friend after I asked for advice on pursuing an MBA. Thoughts?"

Robe of Light: The Persian Years of the Supreme Prophet, Baha'u'llah,Robe of Light: The Persian Years of the Supreme Prophet, Baha'u'llah, by David S. Ruhe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There are now many worthy biographies of Bahá'u'lláh available to both the casual and serious student. Choosing from among them can be difficult; thankfully, there is enough diversity of perspective, and a rich enough body of source material, that one is enriched by reading several of them. Dr. David Ruhe's Robe of Light: The Persian Years of Supreme Prophet, Baha'u'lllah hones in on Mírzá Husayn Alí's life before He became the "Supreme Manifestation" – as a youth, and particularly as one of the foremost Bábís. That he does so in a relatively objective and scientific manner gives his work an additional refreshing lens through which to gaze on the life and teachings of Bahá'u'lláh.

Letter to Congresswoman McCollum, and Senators Franken and Klobuchar:

The recent harrowing arrest of faculty and administrators of the Baha'i Institute for Higher Education in Iran has once again highlighted the subtle and extreme actions in which the current Iranian government is willing to engage in order to suppress the free expression of worship by the Baha'is of Iran.

This world is sadly riven with manifest injustice, often in the form of a government's abuse of its own people. Our most potent weapon against injustice is truth, in speech and deed. In a free land, who can deny that the treatment of the Iranian Baha'is -- unable to administer their affairs, to attend the official schools, to gather in communal worship of that same God to whom most of the world's peoples turn in prayer -- is unjust and unworthy of any nation?

The documentation is evident, widespread, and objective. There is a plain agenda, at the highest levels of government, to eradicate the supposed heresy of "Bahaism" in its homeland. The United States government has been a friend to the Baha'is in the past, offering the stern judgment of a nation wishing to see peace in the world. With the renewed and intensified persecution of the past few years, it is time for the U.S. Congress to join Secretary of State Clinton in remembering the Baha'i community in Iran, by raising its voice in truth, raising its voice in condemnation of the Iranian government's actions against the Baha'is and other religious minorities.

Please, join with forty-five of your colleagues in co-sponsoring House Resolution 134, and in urging that it be brought for a floor vote soon.

Faith Into Action - Respect and Appreciation for Parents - safnet

When I became a Bahá'í in the 90s, perhaps the second deliberate change I made (prayer being the first) was to act with greater respect and appreciation towards my parents. I have long remembered that there was a particular passage that prompted this change; the "Bahá'í Faith" quote service on Facebook has brought that long-sought quotation back to me today:

"The fruits that best befit the tree of human life are trustworthiness and godliness, truthfulness and sincerity; but greater than all, after recognition of the unity of God, praised and glorified be He, is regard for the rights that are due to one's parents. This teaching hath been mentioned in all the Books of God, and reaffirmed by the Most Exalted Pen. Consider that which the Merciful Lord hath revealed in the Qur'án, exalted are His words: "Worship ye God, join with Him no peer or likeness; and show forth kindliness and charity towards your parents…" Observe how loving-kindness to one’s parents hath been linked to recognition of the one true God!" Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, paragraph 106.

How did this change manifest itself? The only particular act I can remember is that I began frequently doing the dishes when at home :-).

An Interfaith Seder - safnet

Last Sunday I attend my first interfaith passover seder, at Mount Zion Temple in St. Paul. There were around 150 people present, from many different religions (though almost entirely white), commemorating together the Jewish liberation from Egyptian slavery. In addition to a traditional Haggadah "liturgy", representatives from six other faith communities were given an opportunity to speak about liberation or an exodus from their religious perspectives, and at the tables we had an opportunity to speak from our own perspectives, particularly with the "questions" aspect of the seder.

Lessons from Louis Gregory: Detachment and Responsibility - safnet

A particular comment in Louis Gregory's biography struck me as illustrating the combination of personal responsibility and material detachment in Reinhold Niebuhr famous prayer, "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference."

Microsoft's Books Online article on SQL Injection does a great job of reviewing the possible attacks against dynamic SQL statements (using EXEC or sp_executesql). I won't re-hash their discussion and suggestions. What I offer below is a sample remediation effort for this set of statements (the @Fields and @Values variables are actually stored procedure parameters):

SELECT @SQL = 'INSERT INTO MyTable (' + @Fields + ') VALUES (' + @Values + ')';

A Lion of Racial Reconciliation... Louis G. Gregory - safnet

It was about three years ago, while attending a conference at Green Acre Bahá'í School in Eliot, Maine, that I had the bounty of making a sunrise pilgrimage to the burial site of Louis Gregory, Hand of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. At the time I knew little about him – that he was an early African-American adherent of the Bahá'í Faith, a fantastic and tireless teacher, well-loved by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and thanks to the Master’s encouragement, one-half of perhaps the first black/white Bahá'í marriage in the U.S.

The Fear of God - safnet


A friend asked about the need for the concept of "fear of God" in the Baháí Faith. Can one be a Baháí without it? More generally, do Baháís accept that there can be compassion and altruism without this "fear"? I found the simple answer today: no (read on for the references). But as with so many concepts, it seems important to dig into the words, exploring their literal and symbolic meaning both inclusive of and apart from our pre-conceived notions.

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