Archive for January, 2009


Spanish Steps

As the new millennium approaches, the crucial need of the human race is to find a unifying vision of the nature of man and society. Baha’i International Community, 1992 Statement on Baha’u’llah

Just back from a flying visit to Spain where Moojan spoke at the extremely popular monthly salon hosted by Mirta and Augusto Lopez-Claros in their beautiful home in Madrid. About 40 people attended from all walks of life, including many members of the international executive committee of AIESEC (the business student organisation), directors of NGOs, the editor of the Spanish edition of Foreign Policy (the international relations journal), bankers and educationalists. A fascinating group of people.

Moojan spoke on `Ideology in the New Millennium’. He explained how religion was the main `ideology’ of the past, the lens through which everyone looked at reality. By the 18th and 19th centuries, science provided a new lens on reality. The 20th century ideologies based on nationalism, racism and communism failed.

The 21st century, he suggested, needs a new `ideology’ at the centre of society, one that has the spiritual values that religion provides, that focuses on the empowerment of individuals and connects them to the source of their being but also fulfils other criteria: promotes and fosters unity at every level of society; sees both religion and science as valid and significant ways of understanding reality; has as its goal the enrichment of human life in all its dimensions; encourages scientific enquiry and scholarship, based on the unfettered search for truth; promotes peace and collective security at the international level; provides the framework for international governance; fosters the prosperity of all humanity; encourages consultative decision-making and problem-solving; provides the means of overcoming prejudices, racism and exclusivity; is able to deal with complexity; recognises the equality of women and men and facilitates their partnership in all endeavours; promotes the oneness of humanity yet values its diversity; actively works to protect the planet; protects minorities; educates all children; expects people to contribute to their own maintenance and that of their community by working and values all work; encourages cultural development and the arts; and is flexible and able to adapt and change as the global community changes and develops.

He proposed that the Baha’i Faith fulfils these criteria. The Spanish audience tended to agree.

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Pointing in the Right Direction

Through the power released by these exalted words He hath lent a fresh impulse, and set a new direction . . . Baha’u’llah

The Baha’i regional conference in London, one of 41 such being held around the world between November 08 and February 09, attracted over 3200 people. We’re used to biggish conferences in the UK, where we meet all our friends, attend a few `plenaries’, go to couple of workshops, drink tea, listen to great music and watch great drama. Nothing like that this time. All our friends were there but there was no time to do more than say `hello’ and `isn’t this amazing’ and then find a seat (hopefully near the front, hopefully not too cold, hopefully one of the `soft’ ones) and listen as the whole Five Year Plan was explained and we were pointed in the right direction. Later we participated in the workshops where we mapped out our own futures.

Highlights: Well, everything. Excellent organisation for a lot of people at very short notice. Check out these sites for pictures and reports and everything else.

Lowlights: Too bad it was freezing (literally) and that, try as they might, the NSA was not able to provide much for children and nothing for over 4s – understandable, though, with so many break-out groups required. Our cluster bought tickets for the children in the cluster to see a puppet show on the Sunday morning, which they enjoyed very much. Great being in a forward-thinking, unifed, caring `A’ cluster!!!

Our grandchildren were at the conference. Aaliyeh turned two in December and Dreyfus turned five on Monday. Here is a recent picture.

16 January 2009

And today a new book was sent to me in the post. I can’t read it, though, because it is in Arabic. However, I did write it, with Moojan. In English it is Understanding the Baha’i Faith, published by Dunedin Academic Press


It is published in Arabic by al-Furat in Beirut (most of the website is under construction). I am really thrilled that a book on the Baha’i Faith has been published by an independent publisher in Arabic – and extra happy that ours was chosen!

And speaking of books, have a look at the George Ronald website for some terrific new books – I am reading Time and the Baha’i Era by Gerald Keil at the moment – fascinating!

cover_time for website

I’m taking it with me to read on the airplane to Spain, where Moojan will be speaking at the home of Augusto and Mirta Lopez-Claros on Saturday.

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Therefore we also must strive in this pathway of love and service, sacrificing life and possessions, passing our days in devotion, consecrating our efforts wholly to the cause of God, so that, God willing, the ensign of universal religion may be uplifted in the world of mankind and the oneness of the world of humanity be established. Baha’i writings

Congratulations to three friends who have been honoured in the New Year Honours List for their services: actor Earl Cameron CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) – for services to drama; musician Russ Garcia – who received the Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for services to music; and Gina Garcia who also received the QSM – for services to the community.

I am honoured that I have known all of them for many years. The Garcias I have known since my childhood in California and Earl Cameron since I came to the UK in 1969. Read about the Garcias here and here; and about Earl Cameron here.


Russ and Gina Garcia (picture by S. van Kerkhoff)

Earl Cameron

Earl Cameron

Honoured too is TV presenter Mabel Wharekawa-Burt, who received the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to performing arts and the community.

These four are all members of the Baha’i Faith, which considers any work undertaken in the spirit of service to humanity as worship. You can read about some examples of this aspect of the Bahai Faith here.

New Year Resolutions

On the last day of 2008 one of my friends asked me what my new year resolution was. Having not given it moment’s thought, I said, `To be a better person.’ But I have been thinking about it and today came across this from a talk given by `Abdu’l-Baha in Paris. I think it makes a good list of `resolutions’:

1. To show compassion and goodwill to all mankind.

2. To render service to humanity.

3. To endeavour to guide and enlighten those in darkness.

4. To be kind to everyone, and show forth affection to every living soul.

5. To be humble in your attitude towards God, to be constant in prayer to Him, so as to grow daily nearer to God.

6. To be so faithful and sincere in all your actions that every member may be known as embodying the qualities of honesty, love, faith, kindness, generosity, and courage. To be detached from all that is not God, attracted by the Heavenly Breath — a divine soul . . .

Well, I can try!

Wishing everyone a happy new year:

`God grant that the new year will bring a promise of the new peace.’ `Abdu’l-Baha

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