Northern Illinois Bahá'ís

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Does Religion Help or Hamper Children Spiritually?

Baha'i Teachings.org - Tue, 09/24/2019 - 3:00am

I have two friends—one raised Jewish and one raised Catholic—who both usually introduce themselves as people “recovering” from their childhood religions. “Hi,” my friend Abner always says when he meets...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

“Dawn of the Light”: A Film for the Bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab

Baha'i Blog - Mon, 09/23/2019 - 9:54am

The Universal House of Justice has commissioned a feature film for the joyous and historic bicentenary anniversary of the Birth of Bab, Prophet-herald of the Baha’i Faith. “Dawn of the Light” can be downloaded or watched online from the official bicentennial website: bicentenary.bahai.org 

This wonderful film follows the story of eight people from around the world as they describe their spiritual journeys to discovering the Bab and Baha’u’llah.

“Dawn of the Light” is available in Arabic, English, French, Persian, Russian, Spanish, and Swahili.

More information about the film can be found in this Baha’i World News Story: “Dawn of the Light”: New bicentenary film explores search for truth and meaning

You may also be interested in the film that was commissioned for the bicentenary of the Birth of Baha’u’allh, “Light to the World”. You can find out more here on Baha’i Blog: “Light to the World”: A Film for the Bicentenary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah. 

Approximate running time: 48 minutes

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

7 Steps Toward Hope on Your Journey to Change the World

Baha'i Teachings.org - Mon, 09/23/2019 - 7:55am

In keeping with past spiritual traditions, this traveller’s search for hope will take you across seven valleys and up seven mountain ranges, each addressing one of the critical dimensions of...

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Serving Your Community—and the World

Baha'i Teachings.org - Mon, 09/23/2019 - 3:00am

Abdu’l-Baha, the exemplar of the Baha’i Faith, said “Think ye at all times of rendering some service to every member of the human race.” – Selections from the Writings of...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Love: An Action, not a Feeling

Baha'i Teachings.org - Sun, 09/22/2019 - 10:00am

How did you learn what love is? Did someone teach you? I have been reading bell hooks’ book All About Love. The deeper I delve into it, the more certain...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Role of Sacred Space: A Conversation on Places of Worship

Baha'i Teachings.org - Sun, 09/22/2019 - 8:00am

A diverse group of participants in India’s capital city explored the role that places of worship play in contemporary society. Held on Thursday on the grounds of the Baha’i Lotus...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

5 Panels for the Bicentenary Created by the Baha’is of the UK

Baha'i Blog - Sun, 09/22/2019 - 5:43am

The Baha’is of the United Kingdom have created five beautiful exhibition panels designed for use during activities commemorating the bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab, Prophet-Herald of the Baha’i Faith.

The panels offer a historical overview of the Bab’s Revelation, share quotations about His Station, describe His teachings, and offer from excerpts from His Writings. Eye-catching photographs are also included.

The Baha’is of the UK have offered these panels to anyone who wishes to use them. They can be printed as pull-up exhibition banners or display panels.

The panels can be downloaded from here: https://drive.google.com/…/1bd_ft7sK_Fn1n8EYv8IoK9iBeUUGTbgd.

Should you have any challenges in accessing the designs or printing them, please contact services@bahai.org.uk or visit the Facebook page set up for the Bicentenary: https://www.facebook.com/UKBahaiBicentenary/

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

The International Day of Peace: Will War Ever End?

Baha'i Teachings.org - Sat, 09/21/2019 - 10:00am

World peace, Baha’is believe, is not a naïve dream, not some vague, pious hope, not even an option—world peace is inevitable: The Great Peace towards which people of good will...

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How Navajo Traditions Lead to the Baha’i Faith

Baha'i Teachings.org - Sat, 09/21/2019 - 8:00am

The Navajo people have a deep, rich, extensive spiritual tradition, which relies on the Navajo creation story. That complex cosmology defines every Navajo’s relationship with all living creatures. In the...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Design Concept for the Shrine of Abdu’l-Baha Unveiled

Baha'i Teachings.org - Fri, 09/20/2019 - 9:19am

The Universal House of Justice has today released the highly-anticipated design concept for the Shrine of Abdu’l-Baha to all National Spiritual Assemblies. For Baha’is, Abdu’l-Baha occupies a station without parallel in the...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Our Purpose in this World and the Next

Baha'i Teachings.org - Fri, 09/20/2019 - 8:00am

Why are we here? What’s our purpose? What is it that we’re supposed to do in this life? Have you ever asked yourself these perplexing questions? You’re not alone –...

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Breaking the Pattern of Polarization on a Weaponized Web

Baha'i Teachings.org - Thu, 09/19/2019 - 10:00am

Many online forums have become fierce battlefields between conservatives, liberals, economists, ecologists, fundamentalists, atheists, globalists and nationalists, just to mention a few.  Those heated arguments have weaponized the web, further...

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He Died for the Sins of the World

Baha'i Teachings.org - Thu, 09/19/2019 - 8:00am

As a small boy I vividly remember my father resting on his knees beside the bed in prayer before he went to sleep—that image sticks with a little person who...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

6 Ways My Home Community Plans on Celebrating the Bicentenary

Baha'i Blog - Wed, 09/18/2019 - 7:58pm

Over 20 years ago, my family left metropolitan life and moved to the Australian regional centre of Ballarat. Located an easy 90-minute drive west of Melbourne, the city is renowned in Australia and abroad for its goldrush history. However, I like to think of its claim-to-fame as being the fact that Australia’s first ever Baha’i woman Effie Baker was raised there, and it was in Ballarat where she received the knowledge and training that would ultimately lead to her serving the Faith as one of its most notable photographers.

With a population of about 100,000, Ballarat is certainly rich in culture, history and heritage. But the reason I love my hometown most of all is because of the strong sense of love, unity and devotion which underpins the Baha’i community. While relatively small (we have less than 30 adult believers and about 15 children and junior youth), we have always managed to work within our means to serve the Faith in a spirit of utmost humility, forging a pattern of collective life that is warm, inclusive and ever-advancing. 

In the lead up to the bicentenaries of the Birth of Baha’u’llah and the Birth of the Bab, the Universal House of Justice sent a message to the Baha’is of the world indicating “the manner in which these highly significant Festivals are to be celebrated.” In its gentle, non-prescriptive and loving tone, the Supreme Body stated that “these Holy Days should be viewed as special opportunities for the friends to reach out to the widest possible cross-section of society and to all those with whom they share a connection.”

And so, the Ballarat Baha’is rose to the occasion alongside their comrades from all around the world, celebrating this “period of special potency” with such love, dignity, creativity, and honour, and sharing Baha’u’llah’s unifying vision with all those who yearned to listen (get yourself a glimpse here and here).

The time now draws near to celebrate the bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab, with only weeks remaining until we “gird up the loins of thine endeavour” and mark this significant moment in Baha’i history!

Recently, the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia released a message to the believers looking at the nature of these celebrations, referencing also some select messages from the Universal House of Justice. Our community took it upon itself to study these messages and extract some key themes, which we thought would allow us to better plan for the festivities. Here are some of the points we are keeping in mind in the lead up, during, and after the Holy Day itself.

1. Reaching out to the widest cross-section of society

We know the bicentenary should be viewed as a special opportunity for the friends “to reach out to the widest possible cross-section of society”. So, instead of simply thinking of the celebration as one event, we have implemented a number of plans in honour of the anniversary and in order to reach as many people as possible.

These plans include increasing devotional gatherings, intensifying teaching efforts, expanding and strengthening our core activities, and engaging in more heart-to-heart conversations in order to continue expanding our circles of friends, colleagues and acquaintances.

2. Celebrations that are uplifting and reverent

According to the Universal House of Justice:

Such initiatives, coupled with widespread celebrations that are both uplifting and reverent, are also sure to spark the curiosity and wonder of many who may as yet be unfamiliar with the names of the Bab and Baha’u’llah..

In addition to the aforementioned plans, our community will host some one-off events including a dedicated Children’s Festival and a Bicentenary Luncheon. Like most of our Holy Days, we hope these events will be uplifting, reverent and all-embracing so everyone feels comfortable inviting their friends along.

3. Taking a creative approach

The National Spiritual Assembly says that “the friends are encouraged to take creative approaches to the celebrations, drawing on diverse forms of artistic and cultural expression.”

For the bicentenary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah, our community decided to mark the occasion with a one-hour production which took the audience through the unifying message of Baha’u’llah using the medium of performance. We commissioned local musicians to put Baha’u’llah’s words to song, music and dance and curated a show that was truly mystical, inspiring and informative.

While we won’t be hosting a production of this scale this year, we are still ensuring our plans take on a creative approach and we hope their intimacy will pave the way for some deeper connections to be made. We have once again commissioned artists to assist with our endeavours, and will also be using the artistic talents of our own children!

4. Conversations centred around the Faith’s key Founders

The House of Justice also states that,

Before and after the first bicentenary, the believers engaged family, friends, and acquaintances of all kinds in conversations about the life and teachings of the Blessed Beauty, and the conversations which occur in connection with the upcoming anniversary will in many ways be an extension of these, centring on both of the Faith’s Twin Founders.

In the lead up to the Twin Holy Days, our community is hosting a series of themed devotional gatherings which aim to familiarize people with the Bab, His Station and His Life. Themes are centred around the outstanding heroes and heroines of the Faith, the Bab’s Ministry, and the Personage of Baha’u’llah. These gatherings provide yet another avenue to engage in conversations about the Twin Luminaries.

5. Embracing more people into the community building process

For me, the greatest, most uplifting way to celebrate this momentous time, more powerful than any single event, is to embrace more and more friends into the community building process underway in our very own neighbourhoods. Through regular expansion and consolidation efforts and through the strengthening of friendships both old and new, we are given the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations and share the very essence of Baha’u’llah’s revelation – the oneness of humanity – inviting a greater number of individuals to join us on a path of service towards the betterment of the world.

The Universal House of Justice states that:

…the real transformative power of the Faith is likely to be perceived more readily still if people experience how worship and meaningful service are being woven into the fabric of the lives of Baha’is everywhere. Indeed, from the community-building activities of the Five Year Plan emerges a pattern of collective life within which anyone can discern the vivifying influence of the divine teachings brought by God’s Manifestations.

With this in mind, we have been striving to embrace more people into our “pattern of collective life” with each passing cycle in a bid to showcase the transformative power of the Faith and hopefully provide a glimpse into what unity in diversity can look and feel like.

6. Universal Participation

At the end of the day, the entire premise of our Faith is based on universality and I think it’s vital we all discover our role in contributing towards these festivities. I don’t know about you, but I love thinking of the many thousands of seemingly small initiatives taking place all over the world during this time, and imagining how they join together as one to illuminate the entire earth.

The National Spiritual Assembly says it is its hope for

every individual to engage in some way – to host a devotional, teach the Faith, invite their family and friends, and contribute their own unique talents and capacities to the collective celebrations – thereby facilitating a deeper connection of every believer to the Blessed Bab on the two hundredth anniversary of His Birth.

I’d love to know, what are you individual plans during this period of special potency? And how will your community be celebrating the bicentenary? Please do share!

 

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

How I Found 9 Spiritual Solutions for Deep Sorrow

Baha'i Teachings.org - Wed, 09/18/2019 - 10:00am

Sometimes life brings us sorrow, and that sadness can feel paralyzing. How do we heal and move forward?  It is normal to grieve from loss, ache from isolation, suffer from...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Should We Teach Our Children One Religion—or All of Them?

Baha'i Teachings.org - Wed, 09/18/2019 - 8:00am

Despite the scientific evidence showing the positive effects of religion on children, we probably all know kids and adults who have experienced the negative influences of a dysfunctional religious upbringing....

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

In Africa, Preparations Energize and Focus Communities

Baha'i Teachings.org - Tue, 09/17/2019 - 10:00am

As communities in Africa prepare for the upcoming bicentenary of the birth of the Bab celebrations, a diversity of efforts are bringing into focus the significance of the historic anniversary. ...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Using Tech for the Higher Purposes of Humanity

Baha'i Teachings.org - Tue, 09/17/2019 - 8:00am

Lately, because I help facilitate a Baha’i-inspired youth group of teens and pre-teens, I’ve had to think carefully about the impact of technology on our society’s young people. As everyone...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Science and Religion: A User’s Brief Guide to Life

Baha'i Teachings.org - Mon, 09/16/2019 - 10:05am

So you want to change the world?  Previous generations have made a mess of it. There is hypocrisy, injustice and corruption everywhere. Some people say that this is part of...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

When People Pray Together: Connecting with Your Community

Baha'i Teachings.org - Mon, 09/16/2019 - 10:00am

At 5:00 pm, the time when the stress of the day has taken its toll and my energy ebbs, I remember – tonight is the Women’s Interfaith Devotional at my...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

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