video: egypt tourism ad

Could this be any more amazing? Well, if you consider that this video wasn’t even made by Baha’is… kudos to the Muslim Network for Baha’i Rights for this piece of genius.

we got green religion

in the gardens at bahjiThe CanWest News Service published a story on the “greening” of religion which briefly mentioned the Baha’i Faith, and that got me thinking a bit about the Baha’i take on environmental stewardship. The Baha’i Writings contain lots of insight about ecological principles and environmental stewardship. I prepared a workshop about ecology for the U of Ottawa CABS a while back, and I found lots of good resources in the compilation on the conservation of the earth’s resources and the Universal House of Justice’s response to a believer’s question about James Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis. Most relevant to this age of environmental crisis, perhaps, is Bahá’u’lláh’s admonition that “[i]f carried to excess, civilization will prove as prolific a source of evil as it had been of goodness when kept within the restraints of moderation.

Ottawa’s Baha’i community is heavily involved in environmental affairs; besides hosting conferences—such as the upcoming International Environment Forum conference in October—and participating in interfaith dialogue on the environment such as that pioneered by Faith and the Common Good—the group cited in the article above—its efforts have extended to the greening of our very own “sacred space”, the Ottawa Baha’i Centre, which was renovated in the summer of 2006 with energy efficiency in mind (compact fluorescents ftw). Waste is reduced by keeping dishes on hand for community functions such as Nineteen-day Feasts and Holy Days and banning the use of disposables. Recycling is a major commitment at the centre, which our local children’s class underlined by creating special decorations for the centre’s many recycling bins.

I can say all this and feel like it’s all good, but the fact is there’s always lots of room to improve when it comes to being “green”. Like the article says, there are so many ways to do a little bit more to be planet-friendly; install rain barrels, for example, or compost bins. Encourage the faithful to use alternative forms of transportation, such as bicycles or public transit (we’re lucky—the bus system is good in Ottawa). Install solar panels, or a grey-water system. One good source of inspiration, FYI, is the Otesha Project—I’ve always wanted to blog more about them. They go around promoting environmental and ecological stewardship through the adoption of healthy, sustainable lifestyles that reduce our dependence on wasteful and/or socially unjust practices. I bought their book at a Baha’i fireside and it’s full of awesome tips.

video: one universal cause

Musical awesomeness from Fire and Snow (see original on Youtube).

That which the Lord hath ordained as the sovereign remedy and mightiest instrument for the healing of all the world is the union of all its peoples in one universal Cause, one common Faith. (Bahá’u’lláh, Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 91)

id cards: egypt tightens noose on baha’is

Baha’i blog Baha’i Faith in Egypt reminds us that time is swiftly running out for the Baha’is of Egypt: the new computerized Egyptian identification cards—which allow access to all forms of official government transactions, and which, coincidentally, are impossible for Baha’is to obtain—will soon be mandatory for all Egyptian citizens; inability to produce such an identification card entails a five-year prison sentence. That’s right—soon, every Baha’i in Egypt, whether their families have lived there for five, ten, fifty or a hundred years, will become non-citizens, illegal aliens in their own land. Never mind the property they own, or even the fact that they will still be expected to continue paying taxes to a state that will refuse to grant them the rights of citizenship!

So far, official rationales for this illogical policy have been based not on facts and arguments, but on prejudice, intolerance and slander. An article published in Al-Ahram Weekly, noted that the 16 December 2006 ruling of Egypt’s Supreme Court (blogged here) was “prejudiced by religious scholars and [institutions]”, and that the court “didn’t respond to a single legal argument by the defence”, instead basing its ruling “solely on a public rejection of the Baha’i faith”. The Egyptian government, backed by the Supreme Court ruling, has actively pursued a policy of religious discrimination akin to the campaign of “cultural cleansing” applied against the Baha’is of Iran. Without intervention, Egyptian Baha’is will soon be regarded as non-persons, ineligible for basic rights such as health care, education, financial security (including pensions and bank accounts), and recognition of marriages, births and deaths.

If you’re interested in contacting the Egyptian Embassy in Canada to express yourself about the cultural cleansing of Baha’is in Egypt, here’s some useful contact information:

Egyptian Embassy in Canada
454 Laurier Avenue East
Ottawa, Ontario KIN 6R3
Tel: (613) 234-4931 / (613) 234-4935
Embassy email: egyptemb@sympatico.ca
Ambassador’s email: egypt4931@rogers.com

Egyptian Consulate, Montreal
3754 Cote des Neiges
Montreal, Quebec H3H 7V6
Tel: (514) 937-7781 / (514) 937-7782

You can also find international embassy and consulate information online.

you want intense? i’ll give you intense

conversations of deep importlife is intense right now. For the past week I’ve been leaving home at 8 AM and getting in between 10 PM and midnight every night; my cat is super angry at me and has been staging regular protests. I guess it started with the reflection meeting; things have been super goofy since then. not long after that, I joined up with Marty and a bunch of friends in one of the two outreach/teaching teams active in Ottawa. Both of them basically hang around in different neighbourhoods, experimenting with the viability of offering the four core activities in each area. my current job on the team is offering children’s classes to kids from two neighbouring apartment complexes. It’s a big change from doing our usual weekly children’s class: this one is a daily class, and the classes are taken word-for-word from Book 3 of the Ruhi curriculum, with songs, games, stories, colouring, and memorization of prayers and passages from the Baha’i Writings. I’ll be posting more about these classes on my children’s classes blog once the 2-week pilot period is over. basically, we’re going totally nutbar for about two weeks, offering all the core activities at the same time in order to gauge the receptivity of the community, and if it works out, we’ll start offering them regularly over a longer period, perhaps weekly throughout the year. There’s been lots of intense consultation, reflection and tons of action. There are tons of photos ready to be posted—and I swear, as soon as I get a moment I’ll be posting them you-know-where.

photo albums overhauled

ladiesaha! after a while of messing around and banging my head against a wall of PHP, I’ve given my photos page a much-needed overhaul. now, instead of linking you directly to flickr, photos will appear directly within the comfortable doberman pizza interface you’re used to. to celebrate, I’ve posted photos from the recent reflection meeting, the refresher session on Anna’s presentation last Monday, the devotional meeting at Julie & Fanfan’s place last weekend, and the latest edition of our children’s class—all nicely arranged into photosets (i.e. albums) for your browsing pleasure. And don’t worry, if you want to see higher-res versions they’re still around on flickr. let me know what you think!