Youth and The Future of Faith

Deutsche Welle has a recent article, Religion Stronger Than Ever Among Global Youth, that reports on the results of a survey by Germany’s Bertelsmann Foundation that discovered, “Young people in developing countries and Islamic states are just as religious as adults… In Morocco, about 99 percent believe in God and life after death. Among Brazilians, Turks and Nigerians, 90 percent are believers and even in Israel, Indonesia and Italy, the rate is 80 percent.”

This is heartening news for those who feel religion is the premier guide for living on this earth.

For those who are suspicious of religion’s influence on culture and individual behavior, I present my own experience: born to two ministers—mom and dad; surrounded by plain folk trying their best to do what other folk claimed was what God desired. Knowing something was amiss when I got home and my ministerial father would turn cranky and treat my trusting mother like she mattered less than his automobile…

It took most of my 62 years (and many tragic mistakes) to work out the supreme conflict between my father’s religion and my mother’s faith. May God bless both their departed souls…

There are many movements afoot on our beloved earth trying to bring the Spirit back to the bleeding body of Religion. Many sincere people, meeting in each other’s homes or the local school auditorium or the woods—people trying to ignite the spirit that moved the earliest believers of our World’s Faiths—actually the One World Faith in God that has had many incarnations, many progressive Revelations of our Creator’s wisdom and guidance.

It’s just so sad when mere mortals get in the way of the flame of true faith, subvert it toward ends that serve egos more than souls…

Today’s quote is from a man, Head of a World Faith, who in 1926 called for just such a heart-deep, faith-fresh religious morality that could help youth avoid the worst options in a world gone insanely materialistic.

“…the dangers facing the modern youth are becoming increasingly grave, and call for immediate solution. But, as experience clearly shows, the remedy to this truly sad and perplexing situation is not to be found in traditional and ecclesiastical religion. The dogmatism of the church has been discarded once for all. What can control youth and save it from the pitfalls of the crass materialism of the age is the power of a genuine, constructive and living Faith… Religion, as in the past, is still the world’s sole hope, but not that form of religion which our ecclesiastical leaders strive vainly to preach. Divorced from true religion, morals lose their effectiveness and cease to guide and control man’s individual and social life. But when true religion is combined with true ethics, then moral progress becomes a possibility and not a mere ideal.

“The need of our modern youth is for such a type of ethics founded on pure religious faith. Not until these two are rightly combined and brought into full action can there be any hope for the future of the race.”

From a letter written on behalf of Shoghí Effendí to an individual believer, April 17, 1926, Bahá’í Youth, pp. 8-9 (Lights of Guidance, p. 630)


Women . . .

SpacePlasma

For far too long, women have been irreverenced by men:
When she was still a child her father selected a teacher for her and she studied various branches of knowledge and the arts, achieving remarkable ability in literary pursuits. Such was the degree of her scholarship and attainments that her father would often express his regret, saying, “Would that she had been a boy, for he would have shed illumination upon my household, and would have succeeded me!”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Memorials of the Faithful, p. 191

Here’s a bit of Truth for those who may use Scripture to attempt a suppression of women:
In the Kingdom of God, there is no difference between the men and the women; both are considered alike—only the one who works the hardest surpasses the other. In the time of Christ, women were the great agents in spreading the Kingdom. The disciples would not have been confirmed if it had not been for them—Peter would not have been strengthened. In cultivating a garden, it makes no difference whether the gardener is a man or a woman—but if the woman works hard and takes care of the plants, she will certainly have a better reward than the man who idles.
Compilations, Baha’i Prayers 9, p. 55


Often various traditions hinder the health and well-being of girls and women:
Statement to the Executive Board of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Agenda item: Women in development

In the view of the Bahá’í International Community, the advancement of civilization now requires the full participation of everyone, including women. For this to happen, girl children as well as boy children must be valued by their families and by society. We share UNICEF’s distress at the blatant neglect of girl children, justified in many parts of the world as part of the culture. We concur with the recommendation, set forth in the Progress report on achievements made in the implementation of UNICEF policy on women in development (E/ICEF/1991/L.5), that UNICEF broaden its approach to maternal health to include an attempt to alter factors that affect girl’s and women’s health before maternity, including harmful traditional attitudes and practices.
Baha’i International Community, 1991 Apr 22, Girl Child

Some may violently disagree with the next quote but this blog does try to focus on spirituality:

As long as the desire, however small, of a man for women is not destroyed, so long is his mind attached, like a sucking calf is to its mother. Cut out the love of self, like an autumn lotus, with your hand. Cherish the path of peace. Nirvana has been shown by the Buddha.
Buddhist, Dhammapada – Sayings of the Buddha 2 (tr. J. Richards)

And, in closing, a poet revered by the spiritually-minded:

Love and tenderness are qualities of humanity,
Passion and lust are qualities of animality.
Woman is a ray of God, not a mere mistress,
The Creator’s self, as it were, not a mere creature!

Mathnavi of Rumi (E.H. Whinfield tr), The Masnavi , Vol 1