22 December 2006

The Emancipation of Women

This speech by Layli Miller-Muro, the executive director of the Tahirih Justice Center, portrays the problems of women around the world. The reality is that women and men are equal in spiritual and mental capacities--and this reality is not accurately represented in the cultures of the world. This fundamental reality is distorted by cultures that value men over women, that educate men before women, that disregard women completely in some cases and treat them as property. If we want world peace, we must work for the full equality of women.

The Universal House of Justice wrote in 1985:
"The emancipation of women, the achievement of full equality between the sexes, is one of the most important, though less acknowledged prerequisites of peace. The denial of such equality perpetrates an injustice against one half of the world's population and promotes in men harmful attitudes and habits that are carried from the family to the workplace, to political life, and ultimately to international relations. There are no grounds, moral, practical, or biological, upon which such denial can be justified. Only as women are welcomed into full partnership in all fields of human endeavour will the moral and psychological climate be created in which international peace can emerge."

The Baha'i Writings say:
"And among the teachings of His Holiness Bahá'u'lláh is the equality of women and men. The world of humanity has two wings -- one is women and the other men. Not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly. Should one wing remain weak, flight is impossible. Not until the world of women becomes equal to the world of men in the acquisition of virtues and perfections, can success and prosperity be attained as they ought to be." --
(Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 288)

I was listening to a talk somewhere--I don't remember the source--a women was saying, "Boys, if you don't understand the equality of women and men, ask your mother; she'll explain it to you!"

Thanks for listening,


18 December 2006

Baha'u'llah in The Bible

Brian Whitcomb talks about the verses in the Bible that relate to Baha'u'llah and the Baha'i Faith. This is actually two separate talks that Brian gave, each about 20 minutes long.

This is the first of several podcasts that will be taken from talks on www.BahaiVideo.com--a really great site with people giving formal talks and short impressions about the Faith. There is also a section where some of Baha'u'llah's Writings have been combined with nice photographs of our Holy Places. The video files are a bit large so one of my listeners in the beautiful Malaysian state of Sabah asked that I convert some of them to podcasts so people without large bandwidth could enjoy the talks.

I apologize that I can't give specific Bible references to the verses that Brian talks about; he mentions some specifics in his talk but for some he only mentions to the Book in the Bible and omits chapter and verse.

I hope you're moved to explore this question on your own. You can find many of the verses here. Others are found on the Prophecy-fulfilled site.

This topic seems to be one of great interest to our listeners. Joel Smith's series of podcasts about the Bible, recorded earlier in this series, are still among the most listened to of all our podcasts. So if you have some question that is not resolved by Joel's talks or by Brian's talk, please email me or send a voice mail and I'll try to get an answer for you.

Thanks for listening,


29 November 2006

The Challenge of the Baha'i Faith

A friend sent me a paper called, The Challenge of the Baha'i Faith, which was a section of a doctoral dissertation written in 1974. The author is not a Baha'i. He lists several reasons why Christians have been studying this religion for the last 150 years and why they should still study it.

I found another paper on the Bahai.org website entitled, For The Student of Religion, which covers similar ground from a different angle.

Both of these papers assume that you are comfortable in Christianity and offer no reasons why you should change--just that you should be familiar with a religion that supports Christianity, has many similarities to it, and seeks to bring the religions together in a true ecumenical spirit.

Why am I doing this blog and creating these podcasts? If you are not yet a Baha'i, I don't want you to change your religion. I really don't. We're not about changing people. But if you aren't settled into a religion, it's just possible that we are the religion you're looking for--that your beliefs and goals are aligned with ours. Maybe you've been wandering from religion to religion always feeling a little different from the people you meet. Most Baha'is will tell you that they've always believed what Baha'u'llah taught; they just didn't know there was a religion that shared their beliefs.

We want to find those people. Maybe you, or maybe someone you know.

Let me hear from you,


26 November 2006

A Few Baha'i Writings

We had a request from a listener in Philadelphia to include some of Baha'u'llah's Writings in a podcast. It was really hard to select a few from so many. Baha'u'llah wrote over 100 volumes of which we have perhaps ten translated into English. We chose just a few favorite prayers and some of The Hidden Words to give a sense of the power of the Words of God. I'm sure that other Baha'is would have chosen other examples to read. Please go to www.Bahai.org and read the Writings for yourself. Or go to your library, or BahaiBookstore.com and buy yourself a copy. If you're not sure what book to buy, send us an email and let us know what you're interested in. We'll be happy to help.

Some of you might like to read some of the Writings that we quoted in this podcasts. If so, here's the PDF file of the script.

This podcast and all our other podcasts are just to get you interested to the point that you'll read the Writings on your own. If you're looking for religious truth, you will find it in the Baha'i Writings, but I can't tell you what religious truth is, you have to read it for yourself.

Baha'u'llah's Writings are unique in religious scripture because God is speaking in the first person. He says, "I created thee rich . . . " rather than the third person as in "God created you rich . . . " So it takes some getting used to.

Thanks for listening,

Sandy and Ron

18 November 2006

What we lost and found

Sandy and Ron, and three of our Emerald Coast Baha'is, talk about the things that Christians give up when they become Baha'is. This was a result of a question from one of our listeners. We felt that it was a fair question. The biggest fear for Christians is that somehow they are turning their back on Jesus Christ. I think it's fair to say that each Christian who becomes a Baha'i feels their relationship with Jesus is illuminated and expanded, but there are things we give up--or many of us give up--depending on who we are as a Christian.

Some of the speakers mentioned the book, Thief in the Night, by William Sears. This is an excellent book for people who are interesting in Christian prophecy. The book has a few errors since Mr. Sears used some secondary sources that weren't verified with the original texts. But overall it presents a good overview of the many, many prophecies.

Please let us hear from you if you have specific questions about the Baha'i life.

Remember that we're just Baha'is talking about our own ideas--these podcasts aren't the official position of the Baha'i Faith.

Thanks so much for listening.

Sandy and Ron

26 October 2006

Why We're Baha'is - the soundtrack

We just finished a 30 minute film for our local cable TV system. We interviewed about two dozen people, children, teens and adults, and we borrowed some video from www.BahaiVideo.com to produce an interesting film.

Hopefully it makes a good podcast too. If you'd like to see the film, here's a 345MB iPod version, and a 24MB MP4 version.

One concern that I often have when Baha'is are talking casually is that Christians may not understand that we see Baha'u'llah as the Messenger of God--and not God as some Christians view Jesus. We often say, "Baha'u'llah says . . . " when a more precise statement might be, "God told us through Baha'u'llah that . . . ."

The safest thing to do is to read God's Word for yourself--directly as it was revealed through Baha'u'llah. See www.bahai.org or www.BahaiBookstore.com.

Thanks for listening.


Why I'm Excited About the Baha'i Faith

Whoops! I've gotten behind in this blog. There are two podcasts that came out of one project--I interviewed eight of my friends and combined their comments with great music by the First Commandment Gospel Singers. Their CD "We Have Come to Praise Him" is available from www.liveunity.com.

I hope you enjoy the podcasts.


01 October 2006

Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati

It's always a joy to talk to Swami J who lives about 20 minutes away from me. I think you'll enjoy this discussion which nominally is about the oneness of religion--or the lack of it. But it really goes much deeper. He talks about the world religions in a multi-dimensional sense and through simple nature-based analogies helps us to see the reasons behind some of the conflicts among the various religions--and even within the same religion.

Explore Swami J's vast contribution to the world's understanding of the science of Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra at www.swamij.com.

For those of you that have sleeping difficulties, check out his Yoga Nidra CD. It will change the way you sleep. Yoga Nidra simply means yogic sleep. See www.yoganidracd.info. I have Yoga Nidra on my iPod so when I'm wide awake at 3am, I just start listening to Yoga Nidra and I'm asleep before I reach the end of it. If you listen to it when you're not exhausted and sleepy, you'll get to an interesting relaxed state that is probably different than what you may have experienced before.

Send me a comment or a voicemail. I'd love to hear from you.

Thanks for listening,


19 September 2006

Baha'i Marriage: the Marriage Transformation Project

Susanne Alexander and Craig Farnsworth are the principals of a Baha'i project called the Marriage Transformation Project (see www.marriagetransformation.com). Their recent books are Pure Gold, a book for married couples, and Can We Dance, a book for people who are looking for a marriage partner or investigating the character of a prospective partner. They hold workshops around the world training couples to use this simple and effective system.

During the podcast they mentioned the Virtues Project (www.virtuesproject.com) which is a system to teach positive character qualities (virtues) to children and youth.

They also mentioned Dr. Gary Chapman's work on the Five Love Languages. Everyone that is in a relationship needs to understand the love languages and know which one you're partner speaks and responds to. Even if you've been married twenty years, you may not know ;-)

I'm sorry that it's been a while since I've produced a podcast. It's been a busy time. My second daughter got married last weekend. She didn't read Can We Dance first, so I'll send her a copy of Pure Gold.

Thanks for listening,


24 August 2006

Rod Debs - Creating Loving Religious Communities

Rod Debs is the minister at our local Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. This podcast is a continuation of an ongoing conversation that Rod and I have been having for the last two or three years. Rod continually strives to increase the religious experience of his congregation without, in any way, controlling their experience. He seeks only to stimulate thought, and to urge them to wholeness--whatever that would mean for them. He is a challenging person to listen to because he doesn't settle for conventional wisdom or platitudes; he tries to put each issue in a global context and treat the views of all people as worthy of consideration.

In this podcast we talked about the goals that are shared by both the Baha'i Faith and Unitarian Universalists and how the two religions take a different approach to achieving their goals.

Check out Rod Debs sermons--you'll see what I mean. You might want to subscribe to his podcast to try to keep up with his latest thoughts.

Rod mentioned Carter Heyward during the podcast. There are several more links about this famous theologian on the web.

In God's Word, there is this quote, "Consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship. Whatsoever hath led the children of men to shun one another, and hath caused dissensions and divisions amongst them, hath, through the revelation of these words, been nullified and abolished." (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 94)

Thanks for listening,


18 August 2006

Fireside 4 - Alan Halm and Joel Smith

Alan Halm and Joel Smith have both thought deeply for many years about the evolution of religions--how they are born, grow and eventually decline. This was a very interesting discussion of the evolutionary process.

At one point Alan mentioned that Baha'u'llah wrote that if it were God's will He could have forced all mankind to recognize each Messenger, but that God's will was that mankind should be tested. Note the word "Say" at the beginning. God is dictating the passage through Baha'u'llah including the instruction to "Say." Baha'is often say that Baha'u'llah said this or that, but in almost every case it is God dictating to His Messenger rather than the Messenger speaking on His own. Here is the relevant quote from Baha'u'llah:

"Say: If it be Our pleasure We shall render the Cause victorious through the power of a single word from Our presence. He is in truth the Omnipotent, the All-Compelling. Should it be God's intention, there would appear out of the forests of celestial might the lion of indomitable strength whose roaring is like unto the peals of thunder reverberating in the mountains. However, since Our loving providence surpasseth all things, We have ordained that complete victory should be achieved through speech and utterance, that Our servants throughout the earth may thereby become the recipients of divine good." (Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 197)

At another point Alan mentioned that there is always confusion because the new Messenger doesn't seem to match the expectations of the members of the previous religion. He mentioned the quote below that refers to the problem of the Christians failing to recognize Baha'u'llah because of the New Name--even though the Book of Revelation mentions the New Name:

"Say, O followers of the Son![Jesus] Have ye shut out yourselves from Me by reason of My Name? Wherefore ponder ye not in your hearts? Day and night ye have been calling upon your Lord, the Omnipotent, but when He came from the heaven of eternity in His great glory, ye turned aside from Him and remained sunk in heedlessness.

"Consider those who rejected the Spirit [Jesus] when He came unto them with manifest dominion. How numerous the Pharisees who had secluded themselves in synagogues in His name, lamenting over their separation from Him, and yet when the portals of reunion were flung open and the divine Luminary shone resplendent from the Dayspring of Beauty, they disbelieved in God, the Exalted, the Mighty. They failed to attain His presence, notwithstanding that His advent had been promised them in the Book of Isaiah as well as in the Books of the Prophets and the Messengers." (Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 7)

Geothe Faust was mentioned as we discussed the struggle of mankind as it reaches for the divine while fighting against change.

Joel's website that discusses the prophecies of various religions is www.bci.org/prophecy-fulfilled/

I really good discussion and summary of the references to Jesus Christ in the Baha'i Writings is available. Just click the link in the sentence above.

I'm working on three more podcasts--but it's summer--it's hard to get people lined up. Hopefully it won't be long before the next one is ready.

Thanks for listening,


27 July 2006

Fireside 3 - Michael Mathein and Timothy Alford

Michael Mathein, Timothy Alford and I are great friends here on the Emerald Coast. They both live in Fairhope, Alabama. Their part of the coast was very much affected by the 2004 and 2005 hurricanes so I haven't seen much of them lately. It was great to talk with them for an hour.

We talked about the concept of a personal God, what it meant to us as Christians, and how that concept evolved after we became Baha'is.

Here's a link to authoritative information about the Baha'i concept of God. (Just in case we got it wrong :-)

We mentioned the Ringstone Symbol during the podcast. Here's a link to the Ringstone Symbol and other Baha'i symbols, with explanations.

We're having fun doing these firesides so we're working on a few more. Let me know if you've got any ideas or if you'd like to participate. People keep asking about having a Christian seeker join a fireside. We'd love to have one of you do that. I realize that it's asking a lot, but if one of our Christian friends would like to join us, it would be great to have some hard questions to answer.

If you'd rather not participate but would still like to ask hard questions--call our toll-free line listed on the left side of this page.

Love to all,


14 July 2006

Health and Healing - Some Baha'i Writings

We hope you enjoyed this talk on health and healing. This is the paper we were reading from. Here is the compilation where we obtained the quotes.

More information on healing is on our website www.alliswell.org. He also have a blog at healthier.happier.blogspot.com

Thanks for listening.

Sandy and Ron

12 July 2006

Fireside 2 - Ernie Acavedo and Mike Whalen

We had fun making this podcast for you. Ernie and Mike are really interesting guys. I was particularly interested in Ernie's evolution from a Catholic to a born-again Christian. It shows the value of sincere search for truth by an individual who is thinking for himself and not constrained by fear.

Ernie and Mike are both members of the Henderson, Nevada Baha'i community. Mike and his wife Gail used to live on the Emerald Coast of Florida. We were sorry to see them go.

I'm working on lining some more people up for more firesides. Summer is a busy time; I'm hoping to have another podcast up next week.

Have a beautiful day,


28 June 2006

Fireside 1 - Gail Whalen

Gail Whalen of Henderson, Nevada talks about the Baha'i principles particularly the education of children and the removal of prejudice. Linda Long and Robert Riley of Florida's Emerald Coast join the discussion.

Materials on Baha'i Principles are available here and here.

We're working on several more firesides using different speakers and attendees. Hopefully there'll be another one early next week.

Sandy is working on a podcast for the two of us to discuss the spiritual education of children. We'll try to get that posted next week also.

On a completely unrelated note -- I just bought a biofeedback game called The Journey to Wild Divine. It was created in cooperation with Deepak Chopra and uses biofeedback technology (that's included with the game) to control the events of the game. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to explore using meditation and breath techniques to improve one's life. The price is very reasonable -- about $160.


Sandy and Ron

16 June 2006

Podcast News

I wanted to let you know what's going on with our podcast; we're working on some great new podcasts that's taking a little time to line up all the participants so I appreciate your patience. We're going to have some group discussions that I think will be fun to listen to.

In the meanwhile, I want to tell you first about the blog that we started; it's called the Emerald Coast Baha'i Podcast Blog. You can find it at ecbp.blogspot.com. We'll provide a post to the blog for each podcast so if you don't catch some information during a podcast, you can find it on the blog.

While you waiting for our next podcast, you may want to listen to two of the other Baha'i podcasts:

On "Ask a Baha'i," Bill Dvorak interviews Ron Hershel, the author of the lecture series "The Evolution of Human Spirituality." This is a really fascinating interview for Baha'is and Christians.

Also on "Ask a Baha'i," there's an interview in two parts with Ravi Sinha, who was not a religious person but became a Baha'i through a very unusual experience.

On "A Baha'i Perspective," Warren Odess-Gillett interviews Ray Estes, a born-again Christian and Bible-scholar who describes his adventure that led him to the Baha'i Faith.

You can find "Ask a Baha'i" at: http://www.bahaicommunity.org/podcast/index.php?channel_id=2

You can find "A Baha'i Perspective" at: http://www.bahaicommunity.org/podcast/index.php?channel_id=1

If you check out the blog there's links along the left side to those podcasts.

That's all for now.

Remember, you're welcome to join us at any time.


08 June 2006

The Attitude of Prayer

Doing a podcast on the Attitude of Prayer was Sandy's idea. It's great to have an extra brain when you run out of podcast ideas!

Here's some of the quotes we used:

O my God! O my God! Unite the hearts of Thy servants, and reveal to them Thy great purpose. May they follow Thy commandments and abide in Thy law. Help them, O God, in their endeavor, and grant them strength to serve Thee. O God! Leave them not to themselves, but guide their steps by the light of Thy knowledge, and cheer their hearts by Thy love. Verily, Thou art their Helper and their Lord. - Bahá'u'lláh
(Compilations, Baha'i Prayers, p. 203)

Create in me a pure heart, O my God, and renew a tranquil conscience within me, O my Hope! Through the spirit of power confirm Thou me in Thy Cause, O my Best-Beloved, and by the light of Thy glory reveal unto me Thy path, O Thou the Goal of my desire! Through the power of Thy transcendent might lift me up unto the heaven of Thy holiness, O Source of my being, and by the breezes of Thine eternity gladden me, O Thou Who art my God! Let Thine everlasting melodies breathe tranquillity on me, O my Companion, and let the riches of Thine ancient countenance deliver me from all except Thee, O my Master, and let the tidings of the revelation of Thine incorruptible Essence bring me joy, O Thou Who art the most manifest of the manifest and the most hidden of the hidden!
(Compilations, Baha'i Prayers, p. 141)

Most of the short quotes about the attitude of prayer can be found in http://info.bahai.org/article-1-4-7-1.html

Other stuff that you might be interested in:

To learn more about the Baha'i Faith:

Our Emerald Coast Florida site:

Call 1-800-22-UNITE to talk to a human.
To leave us a voice mail, call 866-590-4545.

Other Great Baha'i Podcasts:
A Baha'i Perspective: http://www.bahaicommunity.org/podcast/index.php?channel_id=2
Ask a Baha'i: http://www.bahaicommunity.org/podcast/index.php?channel_id=1

I particularly ask my Christian audience to listen to the interviews with Ray Estes in "A Baha'i Perspective." Mr. Estes was a born-again Christian who became a Baha'i. Also listen to the interview with Ron Hershel in "Ask a Baha'i." Dr. Hershel teaches a course in comparative religion and provides an interesting perspective on the relationship between the religions.

Remember, you're welcome to join us at any time!