Blogging Yourself To Death . . .

This post isn’t about blogging so much you die from it. It’s about blogging in the wrong country. That country is Iran and the blogger was Omid Reza Mirsayafi. He was jailed for blogging and died in prison. There’s a special site dedicated to making him the last blogger to die in prison, OR318.
Here’s a special video about the movement:

Spiritual Quote:

“Just as in the world of politics there is need for free thought, likewise in the world of religion there should be the right of unrestricted individual belief. Consider what a vast difference exists between modern democracy and the old forms of despotism. Under an autocratic government the opinions of men are not free, and development is stifled, whereas in democracy, because thought and speech are not restricted, the greatest progress is witnessed. It is likewise true in the world of religion. When freedom of conscience, liberty of thought and right of speech prevail—that is to say, when every man according to his own idealization may give expression to his beliefs—development and growth are inevitable.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 197

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Happy Memorial Day . . .

DeathI’m a veteran.

Today, May 25th, in the United States, people celebrate the brave, dead veterans…

I’m still alive.

The best gift I can give my readers on this misbegotten holiday is this story by Mark Twain:

The War Prayer

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener. It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety’s sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning came—next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their young faces alight with martial dreams—visions of the stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender! Then home from the war, bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag, or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation

God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest! Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!

Then came the “long” prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was, that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers, and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in the day of battle and the hour of peril, bear them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory—

An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher’s side and stood there waiting. With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued with his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal,

“Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!”

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside—which the startled minister did—and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:

“I come from the Throne—bearing a message from Almighty God!” The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. “He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import—that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of—except he pause and think.

“God’s servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two—one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him Who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this—keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor’s crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.
“You have heard your servant’s prayer—the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it—that part which the pastor—and also you in your hearts—fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: ‘Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!’ That is sufficient. the whole  of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory—must  follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

“O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle—be Thou near them! With them—in spirit—we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it—for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

(After a pause. ) “Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits!”

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

~~~~~~~~~

Spiritual Quote:

“And if, confirmed by the Creator, the lover escapes from the claws of the eagle of love, he will enter THE VALLEY OF KNOWLEDGE and come out of doubt into certitude, and turn from the darkness of illusion to the guiding light of the fear of God. His inner eyes will open and he will privily converse with his Beloved; he will set ajar the gate of truth and piety, and shut the doors of vain imaginings. 

“He in this station is content with the decree of God, and seeth war as peace, and findeth in death the secrets of everlasting life. With inward and outward eyes he witnesseth the mysteries of resurrection in the realms of creation and the souls of men, and with a pure heart apprehendeth the divine wisdom in the endless Manifestations of God. In the ocean he findeth a drop, in a drop he beholdeth the secrets of the sea.

“Split the atom’s heart, and lo!
Within it thou wilt find a sun.”

Bahá’u’lláh, The Seven Valleys, p. 11

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Life & Death ~ Survey Results

life-and-death_resultsOur previous post contained a survey that asked folks to comment on this statement:

Life ends at the moment of death.

There were 40 people voting (though more may vote in the future…) and the top response, with 30%, was:

Physical life ends but Spiritual life continues.

Next, with 20%, was:

No, spiritual life continues and heaven and hell are states of being here on earth.

13% merely said, “No.

Yes but we get another chance at it in a new body. and I don’t know. tied at 8%

What’s Life?, What’s Death?, Maybe., and Yes. all had 5% of the vote.

Most interestingly, Yes and you go to heaven or hell. was last with 3%…

I don’t have to say this wasn’t a “scientific” survey. It was a survey of Faith. And, it was a survey “biased” by the answers and the responses of people who found my blog and spent enough time to take the survey.

What conclusions can be made?

Maybe none. Maybe that a “representative” segment of my readers believe more strongly in “Life” after “Death” than in Nothingness… Maybe those readers also don’t believe in the dogmatic preachments about “Heaven” and “Hell”…

Spiritual Quote:

“The soul is the focal point for love and compassion, for faith and courage, and for other such ‘human’ qualities that cannot be explained
solely by thinking of a human being as an animal, or as a sophisticated organic machine. The soul does not die; it endures everlastingly. When the human body dies, the soul is freed from ties with the physical body and the surrounding physical world and begins its progress through the spiritual world. Bahá’ís understand the spiritual world to be a timeless and placeless extension of our own universe—and not some physically remote or removed place. Entry into the next life has the potential to bring great joy. Bahá’u’lláh likened death to the process of birth. He explains: ‘The world beyond is as different from this world as this
world is different from that of the child while still in the womb of its mother’.

Just as the womb constitutes an important place for a person’s initial physical development, the physical world provides the matrix for the
development of the individual soul.
Bahá’í International Community: 1992 Magazine – The Bahá’ís

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Human Life and Death

life_and_death

What Do You Think?

It’s time for a survey about this life and the next one—or is  there a “next life”—and, is it on earth or not?

Would love to have (and feel a strong need to know) your ideas and opinions about what may or may not lie beyond that moment we call death…

Please take a moment to complete the survey. And, come back in the next few days and check the ongoing results.

Leave your comments on the survery and the results, too.
There’s a link at the bottom of the poll to view the ongoing results.

You can select multiple answers

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Gaza and Its Civilians

Read All Our Gaza Posts Here
discussion_gaza_civilians

Miriam, Hamid, and Rebecca at the Park

Rebecca: O.K., we all have our quotes, let’s sit down and see if we have enough for the report.

They walk to the pavilion and get out their papers and books.

Rebecca: You start, Hamid.

Hamid: Well, I chose an article from the New York Times called, Many Civilian Targets, but One Core Question Among Gazans: Why?. Here are the three I ended up with:

“They hit my future with a rocket,” said Muhammad Baroud, one of the students at the Islamic University in Gaza City. “This is a university. What does it have to do with war?”

For Mr. Baroud and his friends, the bombing of the science lab building, which happened in the early days of the Israeli offensive, was a frontal attack on their future. The university is prestigious, and they said they worked hard to get there. It is one of the best medical schools in the region, and Israel recognizes its degrees.

“Are we going to study in a tent?” asked Mr. Baroud’s friend, Ahmed.

And,

The issue, in part, is about the very nature of Hamas. Gazans say that there is a range of relationships people have with the group, starting with sympathizer and ending with rocket launcher or suicide bomber. Just because someone likes Hamas does not mean that that person is necessarily working for the group, Gazans say.

Rebecca: Are there quotes in the article from the Israelis?

Hamid: Yes, do you think we need some of those?

Miriam: I  think so…

Rebecca: Yes.

Hamid: Will do.

Rebecca: Miriam, what do you have?

Miriam: I chose an article from the BBC News called, Gazans confront shattered lives, and I chose different segments from the article woven into one quote:

…for some Gazans even attempting to return home is virtually unimaginable. Amira al-Girim, 15, lies in a hospital bed with her leg in traction. She was found alone, bleeding in a house, about four days after she saw her father killed by an Israeli tank shell in front of her. Her brother and sister died – she thinks in an air strike – as they ran to get help….By the time she was found – she is not sure if it was three or four days later – she hardly knew her own name. But she remembers details…. She says she slept in the street for two days, but then found her way into another house. She had struggled some 500m with a badly broken, bleeding leg, in search of shelter as fighting raged nearby. ABC producer Sami Ziyara, who found Amira with his colleague Imad, said doctors told him she had only a few hours left to live at the point they found her in Imad’s house.

Miriam: That’s it…

Hamid: Powerful…

Rebecca: I think you found something we really need in the report. Is there a picture of her?

Miriam: Yes, here…

gaza_girl_suffering

Hamid: Poor, poor girl………

Miriam: Rebecca, what do you have?

Rebecca: Well… You guys may think I’ve flipped but I chose a quote of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, from page 19 in a book called ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London. It was written in 1911. It’s a spiritual quotation but I think we can use it at the end of the report to drive our points home:

The gift of God to this enlightened age is the knowledge of the oneness of mankind and of the fundamental oneness of religion. War shall cease between nations, and by the will of God the Most Great Peace shall come; the world will be seen as a new world, and all men will live as brothers.

In the days of old an instinct for warfare was developed in the struggle with wild animals; this is no longer necessary; nay, rather, co-operation and mutual understanding are seen to produce the greatest welfare of mankind. Enmity is now the result of prejudice only.

They went to Miriam’s home, finished the report, and sent an email copy to their teacher…

They got an A…

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Insanity !

bombThe man was strong, confident, and well-equipped.

The boy was weak, terrified, and destitute.

The man moved his finger and unleashed death.

The boy moved his eyes and saw his world erupt in flame.

The man flew his plane back to base and celebrated with his comrades.

The boy’s soul ascended to his True Home. He greeted his parents and sisters and began to pray for those left behind . . .

~~~~~~~~~

So much of our lives boil down to what we focus on—Light or Dark, Spirit or Body.

So much of our world is enmeshed in the materialistic claws of the gods of war.

So many of our human family are dispossessed and hopeless.

The Dark Ones are far from God through willful blindness.

The Ones carrying the Light are far from God only because their souls are still hovering near their bodies . . .

Please share your comments about this insane situation enveloping our human family!

Also, watch this video about some present-day Darkness and Light, Body and Spirit, Hell and Heaven . . .

Spiritual Quote :

“O God, my God! Thou seest how black darkness is enshrouding all regions, how all countries are burning with the flame of dissension, and the fire of war and carnage is blazing throughout the East and the West. Blood is flowing, corpses bestrew the ground, and severed heads are fallen on the dust of the battlefield.

“O Lord! Have pity on these ignorant ones, and look upon them with the eye of forgiveness and pardon. Extinguish this fire, so that these dense clouds which obscure the horizon may be scattered, the Sun of Reality shine forth with the rays of conciliation, this intense gloom be dispelled and the resplendent light of peace shed its radiance upon all countries.

“O Lord! Draw up the people from the abyss of the ocean of hatred and enmity, and deliver them from the impenetrable darkness. Unite their hearts, and brighten their eyes with the light of peace and reconciliation. Deliver them from the depths of war and bloodshed, and free them from the darkness of error. Remove the veil from their eyes, and enlighten their hearts with the light of guidance. Treat them with Thy tender mercy and compassion, and deal not with them according to Thy justice and wrath which cause the limbs of the mighty to quake.

“O Lord! Wars have persisted. Distress and anxiety have waxed great, and every flourishing region is laid waste.

“O Lord! Hearts are heavy, and souls are in anguish. Have mercy on these poor souls, and do not leave them to the excesses of their own desires.

“O Lord! Make manifest in Thy lands humble and submissive souls, their faces illumined with the rays of guidance, severed from the world, extolling Thy Name, uttering Thy praise, and diffusing the fragrance of Thy holiness amongst mankind.

“O Lord! Strengthen their backs, gird up their loins, and enrapture their hearts with the most mighty signs of Thy love.

“O Lord! Verily, they are weak, and Thou art the Powerful and the Mighty; they are impotent, and Thou art the Helper and the Merciful.

“O Lord! The ocean of rebellion is surging, and these tempests will not be stilled save through Thy boundless grace which hath embraced all regions.

“O Lord! Verily, the people are in the abyss of passion, and naught can save them but Thine infinite bounties.

“O Lord! Dispel the darkness of these corrupt desires, and illumine the hearts with the lamp of Thy love through which all countries will erelong be enlightened. Confirm, moreover, Thy loved ones, those who, leaving their homelands, their families and their children, have, for the love of Thy Beauty, traveled to foreign countries to diffuse Thy fragrances and promulgate Thy Teachings. Be Thou their companion in their loneliness, their helper in a strange land, the remover of their sorrows, their comforter in calamity. Be Thou a refreshing draught for their thirst, a healing medicine for their ills and a balm for the burning ardor of their hearts.

“Verily, Thou art the Most Generous, the Lord of grace abounding, and, verily, Thou art the Compassionate and the Merciful.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i Prayers, p. 182

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Can We Trust The News ?

Image Credit
child-of-war
Ananiah didn’t want to believe it: innocent people were dying and his country’s newspapers were claiming the bombing was only against military targets.

How could they miss what he could see with his own eyes? Right across the border from his favorite tree, right in that village, mothers and kids his age were lying in a pool of blood, hands and legs and heads severed from their bodies…

He couldn’t stop the tears, couldn’t stop his body shaking with rage. What could he do about it? Why were the newspapers lying about it? What did those people down there do to end up like that?!

Ananiah changed that day. His trust in his country evaporated. His anger at grownups began to swell into hatred. His faith in God was injured…

~~~~~~~~~

I created that short scene, created it out of the truth of a situation happening all over the world—lies so huge that no one should believe them.

How do we get news that tells the real story? How can we arm ourselves with the Truth?

Here are some sources that work hard to uncover the facts:

OneWorld.Net: “OneWorld aims to be the place global citizens turn to for news and views from around the world not covered in mainstream media; we are also a key hub that Americans use to find and interact with like-minded individuals and organizations from around the world.”

GlobalVoices: “Today, Global Voices is thriving, vital component of the global media environment, helping individuals and media professionals around the world gain access to the diverse voices coming from citizen media.”

Inter Press Service: “Information is an agent of change. Since its inception, back in 1964, IPS has believed in the role of information as a precondition for lifting communities out of poverty and marginalization. This belief is reflected in our historic mission: “giving a voice to the voiceless”—acting as a communication channel that privileges the voices and the concerns of the poorest and creates a climate of understanding, accountability and participation around development, promoting a new international information order between the South and the North.”

The Real News Network: “We won’t blindly follow wire services or official press releases that attempt to set the news agenda. We will cover the big stories of the day, but we will broaden the definition of what’s important. The Real News will investigate, report and debate stories that help us understand the critical issues of our time.”

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: “RFE/RL’s mission is to provide uncensored news and information in countries where a free press is either banned by the government or not fully established.”

Spiritual Quote  (written over 100 years ago):

“In this Day the secrets of the earth are laid bare before the eyes of men. The pages of swiftly-appearing newspapers are indeed the mirror of the world. They reflect the deeds and the pursuits of divers peoples and kindreds. They both reflect them and make them known. They are a mirror endowed with hearing, sight and speech. This is an amazing and potent phenomenon. However, it behoveth the writers thereof to be purged from the promptings of evil passions and desires and to be attired with the raiment of justice and equity. They should enquire into situations as much as possible and ascertain the facts, then set them down in writing.”
Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 39

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