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For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken…we shall be made a story and a by-word throughout the world. We shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God…We shall shame the faces of many of God’s worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us til we be consumed out of the good land whither we are going. – John Winthrop, A Model of Christian Charity 1630

I fell in love with America only a few years ago, but I fell hard, In a history class. A nation founded on ideals, which had continued through its history to uphold the standard of right government and insist that man can create a fundamentally good society. No human creation is closer to Utopian. Since that time I have looked forward to adulthood, to voting and jury duty, and taxes, and census’. I don’t see jury duty and taxes as burdens, but as relished duties by which I can prove man’s inherent good to a world which had for so lon denied and suppressed such ideas. I see America as John Winthrop did, “a city on a hill,” but I believe that unlike his America, mine can fulfill its potential. The America of Winthrop lacked something I feel is fundamental to the success of our experiment, pragmatism.

Pragmatism was embedded in our system by our founding fathers, who I do not believe expected the conditions and needs of society to remain the same. The ultimate purpose of democracy must be to rule pragmatically, or perhaps it is the ultimate requirement for a successful democracy. Our constitution admits this, allowing for infinite change to the laws and pillars of our system, as long as popular influence is not lost. In fact, as society develops we must, and have done so in the past, change to make sure the popular influence is not lost.

Yet to some great extent it has been lost. Bureaucracy has become a pillar of our system, layers and filters by which the stupidity of the people might be diluted into intelligent decisions. In the age when our democracy was founded, the average man knew little about political decisions, and lacked an education. To protect our system from the ignorant, while protecting the ignorant, only those with an education, and enough money to understand the larger effects of their decisions were involved in our system. Through time that has changed, an yet we remain terrified of the chaos that might ensue if the average American becomes the driving force in our government. So we have allowed the average ignoramus his say, but we have made sure that his say goes passes through enough layers that it become indistinguishable, and smarter of course. Our system has been successful, and I don’t deny that in the time of our founding fathers the masses would have been destructive to our “city on a hill”. In this day and age however, this age of near universal education and instant communication, democracy must become more direct if it is to remain a viable system for governance.

If we as a people truly believe that man is basically good, and can govern himself with justice and equity, bureaucracy must now be abandoned. In its place must sit a system where the say of the average man is only a few steps away from the highest point of government and reaches that point undiluted. Already we have seen a new political medium appear around the world, and it has proved its influence. This must stand as evidence that this new system of governance is an inevitable stage in man’s development, and must be embraced lest we “be made a story and a by-word throughout the world”.

In America, and Israel, and many other modern nations, the grassroots initiative has begun to rear its head, calling for recognition as a suitable medium for change, and a pillar of the new democracy. A demographic that has traditionally been seen as the bane of democracy has led the majority of these movement, the young. With a more direct access the the core of society, and a flexible position in society, the young who have not yet settled into a niche must be a driving force in this new system. Of course these are not the same young of 1776, these are youth in a world of universal education, a truth which must become truly worldwide before this system can be fully embraced.

Our current democratic system is not ready to successfully accommodate this new balance of power. Quickly, it is becoming as bureaucratically stiff and ineffective as the despotic bureaucracies it was intended to replace. As the prime and first example of a good society, the responsibility lies with America. If we cannot embrace the values of pragmatism our founding fathers set forth, our experiment will have proved forever that ultimate superiority of despotism in governing the essentially evil race of men.

I fell in love with America a few years ago, and that love has only grown, but I have a greater love. In my mind the model for this new democracy lies in the plans of Baha’u’llah, who proclaimed and taught such a form of government nearly 200 years ago. Baha’u’llah explains that such government as can unite the human race is not only possible, but our inevitable God-Given destiny. While I do not believe a single man needs to become a Baha’i for democracy to remain viable, I do believe that the values the Blessed Beauty set forth in the field of governance must be embraced universally, and first in America – whether we acknowledge their source or not.

I desire this station for you and I pray God that the people of America may achieve this great end in order that the virtue of this democracy may be insured and their names be glorified eternally. May the confirmations of God uphold them in all things and their memories become revered throughout the east and the west. May they become the servants of the Most High God, near and dear to Him in the oneness of the heavenly Kingdom . . . The people of America have remarkably quick perception, intelligence and understanding. Their thoughts are free and not fettered by the yoke of governmental tyranny. They should investigate reality and not be occupied with ancestral forms and imitations. – `Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace 1912

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My thank to Baquia for his (her?) post that introduced this video to me.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5216975979627863972&hl=en-CA (I tried to embed it, but I could not.)

Firstly, I have not researched any of these topics in depth myself; I have watched the video and treated most of it as fact, giving it the benefit of the doubt. This may be silly, but it is what I have done. There are certain topics that I have read about before, and certain ones I have read about now that my interest has been spurred – there are however no topics that I have studied in depth.

I have some problems with this video. Many of the conclusions the creator draws are valid and based in logic, but some are obvious examples of twisting tenuous or nonexistent evidence to fit your interpretation. As a Stephen Colbert fan, I have to say I felt as if the author might be a student of Truthiness. While I was watching the video I was intensely interested and took it at face value, however after seeing what the next to pieces are about, (9/11 and the Federal Reserve, favorites of conspiracy nuts) and considering the author’s habit of evidence twisting, I have some major doubts that his “research” consisted of more than idle thought. However, there are some points he makes that stir up interesting thought, but not a single one that really accomplishes his goal – erasing belief in Jesus Christ.

My understanding of scripture
While I may base my belief in this area off of Baha’i sources, it is in no was the “official” Baha’i belief. I am sure many Baha’is believe differently, and as far as I know, neither of the authorized interpreters of the Baha’i scripture ever explained this topic in depth.

I believe that The Gathas, The Qur’an, The Bayan, and The Revelation of Baha’u’llah are all the direct word of either God or his Messenger(s). They are not the inspired word of God/Messenger, nor derived from such works, they are in infallible word of God in it’s entirety. They represent the Word of which the Messengers are made, manifest in the form of knowledge given to us through the Divine Manifestations. (Zoroaster, Muhammad, The Bab, and Baha’u’llah in these cases.) Contradiction between them is impossible and non-existant and they each validate the others.

This is very simple, and it is evident in the Works of Baha’u’llah & ‘Abdu’l Baha, however, when the Bible is involved it becomes more complicated. The Tanakh (Old Testament) was written by the Jews in their exile in Babylon, many years after the events recorded in it took place. (Yes it continued to evolve later, but this statement works as a generality.) I believe that the Hebrew were led by God to write down their history, and to put to writing the derivative of Moses’ Pentateuch that they had passed down through oral tradition. This was a human action, inspired by God. Therefore it is not inerrant, but the spiritual value remained intact and was able to serve in place of the actual Pentateuch and the other accounts Messengers brought. The Hebrews may of may not have understood the line between history and symbolism, but the value of the Tanakh is in it’s symbolism and spiritual meaning; even those passages that are historically accurate. I see the Holy Books of other religions in the same way, with varying lesser extents of inspiration in their current form.

The Gospel I see in a similar manner. When I say the Gospel I do not mean only Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but the whole New Testament – just as I use the term Bayan to describe all of The Bab’s writings. I do not think that the Gospel as we possess it today is the infallible Word as the Qur’an is; they were however in their original form. Many Muslims describe the Gospel as a “lost book”; I think this is true in terms of the original Word as given to use through/by Jesus Christ, but not in its spiritual value. Baha’u’llah describes it this way.

We have also heard a number of the foolish of the earth assert that the genuine text of the heavenly Gospel doth not exist amongst the Christians, that it hath ascended unto heaven. How grievously they have erred! How oblivious of the fact that such a statement imputeth the gravest injustice and tyranny to a gracious and loving Providence! How could God, when once the Day-star of the beauty of Jesus had disappeared from the sight of His people, and ascended unto the fourth heaven, cause His holy Book, His most great testimony amongst His creatures, to disappear also? What would be left to that people to cling to from the setting of the day-star of Jesus until the rise of the sun of the Muhammadan Dispensation? What law could be their stay and guide? How could such people be made the victims of the avenging wrath of God, the omnipotent Avenger? How could they be afflicted with the scourge of chastisement by the heavenly King? Above all, how could the flow of the grace of the All-Bountiful be stayed? How could the ocean of His tender mercies be stilled? We take refuge with God, from that which His creatures have fancied about Him! Exalted is He above their comprehension! (Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 89)

The revelation of Jesus Christ came in the form of his words, and perhaps even in the form of an actual book/message in a form like the Torah or Qur’an. However, the spiritual Gospel, and the only text man has possessed has been passed to us through writers inspired with the spirit of Christ by his will. Therefore while the Gospel may have existed in another form originally, it does still exist today. While the Catholic Church may have been politically motivated in deciding which books to include and exclude, this does not in any way negate the spiritual power of the Gospel of Jesus of Nazareth, and the Gospel remains the book given through/by that Messenger.

Historicity of Jesus
I believe in a historical Christ, however my faith in Jesus is not dependent upon this. I believe in a historical Christ because I am convinced of the station of Baha’u’llah, I find the proof of his station replete in the Holy Scriptures of the world, and I am wholly convinced of it. If, therefore, Baha’u’llah says He existed, I believe He must have. While Baha’u’llah, as far as I am aware, never said anything which could not apply just as easily to a non-historical Christ, ‘Abdu’l Baha and Shoghi Effendi make his historicity clear.

I have never seen a shred of evidence to support the non-historicity of Jesus of Nazareth, and I find the idea a little silly. An argument often raised to challenge the historicity of Christ is that He is not mentioned by any of the leading historians of the time, among them Pliny the Elder, and Seneca. The idea that He ought to be is not founded in logical thought. Jesus Christ was a rebel, He preached against a state-sanctioned organization, and led followers ought of the political control of the establishment. He raise a raucous, yes, yet Jesus was not a world-changing figure in the eyes of the Romans, I am sure that very few if any residents of Rome heard of Him for quite a while. Jesus was hung on a cross meant for thieves, nothing more than an example was made by the Romans; He was only of interest to them in that He indicated a weakness in the already troublesome Jewish establishment, and that His crucifixion could serve to calm any trouble-makers lurking therein.

His historical existence is however supported by various sources, and really only one reliable source is needed. Many criminals were crucified daily without any record; the fact that this relatively minor criminal was actually considered of interest by some historian who had seem many Jewish leaders, and many criminals, is very interesting. I won’t even try to go into proving the historicity of Jesus, or arguing about the reliability of Josephus. I will let wikipedia do that for me. Historicity of Jesus

Now, in terms of Jesus having connections to sun symbolism, I still do not understand how this is surprising. Firstly, the zodiac exists to keep track of harvests, and harvests obviously have a deeply spiritual meaning; thus I do not see how Jesus tying into that is meant to make me doubt His role or existence. However, the fact that He has some striking parallels in other cultures is a point of interest. I will not claim to be an expert on this, and this is just simple thinking. The Egyptian religion which contains Horus was never a Polytheistic religion, but a Monolatrous one, as are many branches of Hinduism. Therefore it is not unthinkable, or even improbable, (from a Baha’i point of view) that is was influenced by valid religions of God, or a derivative thereof. Horus could perhaps be a remnant of a true manifestation, even a Messiah-figure from pre-Adamaic times; the similarities could also be chalked up to a combination of a symbolic story like that of Joseph; which carries many similarities to that of Jesus for symbolic and predictive reasons, and prophetic reference to Jesus.

None of the other “Messiahs” that this video mentions carry enough weight to matter. Zoroaster and Krishna have valid connections from my point of view.

The author raises some points about Moses and Noah, and I won’t discuss those except to say that I am sure their stories permeate cultures in a more complex manner than the linear “plagiarism” he posits.
The video is very interesting, and I applaud the effort. He makes good points and bases them in fact, however he obviously takes some coincidental similarities, and some weak evidences and twists them. While I agree with a lot of his points and he actually makes me think about their place in my faith, I cannot put much merit in the video’s weak effort to conform to logic as a tool to displace faith. As interesting as it was, and as much as I enjoyed it, I found myself saying “No duh!” in my head quite often, and came away more convinced of the historicity, and divinity of Jesus Christ. However, all the negatives should not imply that I did not like the video, or that I was not impressed and intrigued by it; I did and I was/am. find it interesting though, how in keeping with Shayki and Baha’i thought some of his ideas are.

Allah’u’abha!
An interesting read
Joseph (I would like to learn a lot more about Joseph, his story is so fascinating spiritually and in terms of its role in Islam)

From reading now I have found that many of his facts are false. The astrology seems to have a basis in fact, but many of the historical figures he mentions do not have a characteristics he claims that do. Horus however does bear uncanny resemblance to Jesus.

Powered by ScribeFire.

I had a chance this weekend to attend a teaching meeting in Billings Montana. This meeting was centered around two speakers, Mr. Ali Nakhjavani, and his wife Mrs. Violet Nakhjavani. Ali Nakhjavani served as an original member of the Universal House of Justice for over forty years, and was a personal friend of the Beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi. Violet Nakhjavani was the traveling companion of Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khanum. Also attending was Jacqueline Left Hand Bull, Chairwoman of the National Spiritual assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States of America. I personally had the chance to interact if only for a brief moment with Ali and Jacquie; my friend Winnie made a prayer trade with the Nakhjavani’s and carried a message to them from Shamsi Afnan, a member of our local community. I will write more about this later, it stands out as the most incredible experience of my life, and deserves more attention. Now I have to go to school.

Mulla Musayn has fascinated me since learning my first bits of Babi history. Firstly he has my favorite name ever, Husayn. Secondly he has the unique privilege of being the Babu’l-Bab; a single mortal man through whom the fulfillment of all human potential was ushered in. And I love the name Husayn.

At Carmel Baha’i school my teacher told us that the Bab referred to Mulla Husayn-i-Bushru’i as the return of Muhammad, and that thus in a mystical way there have perhaps been more than two manifestations in this dispensation. I did not even think to doubt it, the man is a genius, and upon getting home I looked it up and he was right. (Shout out to Dr. Jay)

Consider thou the Revelation of the Point of the Bayan — exalted is His glory. He pronounced the First One [1] to believe in Him to be Muhammad, the Messenger of God. Doth it beseem a man to dispute with Him by saying that this man is from Persia, the Other from Arabia, or this one was called Husayn while the Other bore the name of Muhammad? Nay, I swear by God’s holy Being, the Exalted, the Most Great. Surely no man of intelligence and insight would ever pay attention unto limitations or names, but rather unto that with which Muhammad was invested, which was none other than the Cause of God. Such a man of insight would likewise consider Husayn and the position he occupied in the Cause of God, the Omnipotent, the Exalted, the Knowing, the Wise. And since the First One to believe in God in the Dispensation of the Bayan was invested with command similar to that with which Muhammad, the Messenger of God, was invested, therefore the Báb pronounced him to be the latter, namely His return and resurrection. This station is sanctified from every limitation or name, and naught can be seen therein but God, the One, the Peerless, the All-Knowing. [1 Mulla Husayn.] (Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 184)

This passage seems at first to say that Mulla Husayn was an independent Manifestation of God, endowed with constancy, and the power of the creative word. This throws the idea of the Twin Manifestations out the window and opens up the door to many questions. However, if we analyze the meaning in context with some other quotations, it begins to make sense on both logical and mystical levels. Now, I don’t claim that the meaning I take from it is the only one or even the right one, just the one that seem apparent to my faulty reasoning. Insha’allah it is somewhere close to the intended truth.

If we examine this statement by ‘Abdu’l-Baha, the Centre of the Covenant, we can start see what I think Baha’u’llah might have intended us to gather from the above passage.

In confirmation of the exalted rank of the true believer, referred to by Bahá’u’lláh, He reveals the following: “The station which he who hath truly recognized this Revelation will attain is the same as the one ordained for such prophets of the house of Israel as are not regarded as Manifestations ‘endowed with constancy.'” (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 111)

The quote above does not say that we can become Lesser Prophets, it says that we can attain an equal station. Lesser Prophets, nabi are a thing of the previous age, however we have now the oppourtunity, by pure recognition of Baha’u’llah to reach a station that is equal in glory to them, and perhaps this even implies an equal, if different spiritual power – utterly dependent still on the Manifestation of God.

Likewise Baha’u’llah makes it clear elsewhere that the station He holds is supreme among Manifestations, and thus the power wielded by Him is greater than those manifestations of the Adamaic Age. The essence is no different, but the station is far greater, and this applies as well to the manifestations to come in this age. (As I understand it.)

And since the First One to believe in God in the Dispensation of the Bayan was invested with command similar to that with which Muhammad, the Messenger of God, was invested, therefore the Báb pronounced him to be the latter, namely His return and resurrection.

It was pointed out to me that while the return of a Lesser Prophet can well be a Greater Prophet, it cannot be the other way around – nor can a Greater Prophet return as a normal human being, as their essence is that of Manifestation. (Not to say they cannot, (He is, in truth, the exponent of ‘God doeth whatsoever He willeth’.) but it is a different concept than that return Baha’u’llah teaches us about.

However, if the believer in this Age can be exalted to the station of a Lesser Prophet of the previous age, and the Manifestations of this Age wield greater power than the previous ones, why cannot – by the will of the Manifestation of God, a soul endowed with acquired infallibility be given power to wield equal to that wielded by the Manifestations of the previous age?

So I would venture that this passage is not saying that Mulla Husayn is an independent Manifestation of his own right, nor anywhere near the level of Baha’u’llah. It seems to me that it is saying that his station has been exalted such, that he bears power equal to that Muhammad bore, while remaining human in his essence, and that his piety and human attributes are identical, through the power given him by the Bab, and through his very nature to those of Muhammad. Thus he is the same person, and equal to him in all ways but his pre-existent essence. I hope that made some sort of sense.

164 years ago, on this day, the Point of the Bayan ascended from this mortal plane, making way for ‘Him Whom God must needs make manifest’. I would like to offer a written prayer to that Point as a testament to Him and all those exalted souls who gave their lives for His cause, and that I may live.

How numerous the souls raised to life who were exposed to dire humiliation in Thy Path for exalting Thy Word and for glorifying Thy divine Unity! How profuse the blood that hath been shed for the sake of Thy Faith to vindicate the authenticity of Thy divine Mission and to celebrate Thy praise! How vast the possessions that were wrongfully seized in the Path of Thy love in order to affirm the loftiness of Thy sanctity and to extol Thy glorious Name! How many the feet that have trodden upon the dust in order to magnify Thy holy Word and to extol Thy glory! How innumerable the voices that were raised in lamentation, the hearts that were struck with terror, the grievous woes that none other than Thee can reckon, and the adversities and afflictions that remain inscrutable to anyone except Thyself; all this to establish, O my God, the loftiness of Thy sanctity and to demonstrate the transcendent character of Thy glory.

These decrees were ordained by Thee so that all created things might bear witness that they have been brought into being for the sake of naught else but Thee. Thou hast withheld from them the things that bring tranquillity to their hearts, that they might know of a certainty that whatever is associated with Thy holy Being is far superior to and exalted above aught else that would satisfy them; inasmuch as Thine indomitable power pervadeth all things, and nothing can ever frustrate it.

Indeed Thou hast caused these momentous happenings to come to pass that those who are endued with perception may readily recognize that they were ordained by Thee to demonstrate the loftiness of Thy divine Unity and to affirm the exaltation of Thy sanctity.

In Persian mythology Majnún (Farsi for insane) is young man who falls badly in love with the archetypeal beauty Layli. When her father will not allow a marriage, Majnún becomes mad with his unrequited love. His searches for her, attempts to gain access to her, and his insanity from love, all are used by Persian poets and mystics as imagery for many different themes in Persian literature.

It is related that one day they came upon Majnún sifting the dust, and his tears flowing down. They said, ‘What doest thou?’ He said, ‘I seek for Layli .’ They cried, ‘Alas for thee! Layli is of pure spirit, and thou seekest her in the dust!’ He said, ‘I seek her everywhere; haply somewhere I shall find her.’ Yea, although to the wise it be shameful to seek the Lord of Lords in the dust, yet this betokeneth intense ardor in searching. ‘Whoso seeketh out a thing with zeal shall find it.
(Baha’u’llah, The Seven Valleys, p. 6)

Majnún is also a Bahá’í search engine. It allows, through a special Google for the user to search only Bahá’í content. Now, I don’t think all searches for Bahá’í topics ought to be done this way, as only a limited number of websites are included, (Though, 600 is alot.) and this does not allow for discovering cool new unheard-of sites. However, it allows you to integrates searches on common sites like Bahá’í Library, Bahaikipedia, and Bahá’í Reference Library into one search. It also has a blog-specific search, (Be sure to submit ’em!) and book-store specific search. It is insane!

It is also pretty. 😛