Archive for September, 2008

Reaching Out to Our Neighbors

We want to find those souls whose spiritual beliefs are the same as ours, but who have not yet discovered that object of their hearts and spiritual affection and made the spiritual connection with the Faith of Baha’u’llah, the Baha’i Faith. And we know that you’re out there!

We’re doing this in an organized, systematic way with the human resources available. Our recent effort was a nine-day campaign of door-to-door teaching in the Hilltop neighborhood of Tacoma.  We offered to present the Faith to our neighbors who were interested in hearing more about us. And for those who would like to hear more at another time, Baha’is will be making return visits to their homes during the next few weeks, or, of course, they might also want to attend our devotional meetings or participate in a Ruhi course, which is a course of study on particular spiritual topics.  

Our Baha’is who go door-to-door to offer to present the Faith are friendly and easy-going, and are represented by teams of usually two persons.  Here are stories from the first day of the nine-day campaign, Saturday, September 20, 2008.

One team met two young ladies standing and talking on a porch and asked to share about the Faith and they said “go for it!”  Another girl joined them who had heard of the Faith.  A long conversation ensued, one of the first girls left, the third girl eventually had to as well.  The teachers continued with the first girl and they had a deep discussion about life after death in relation to the hurt she still felt from her grandfather’s death five years earlier.  The team spent over an hour on the steps to the porch.  The teachers shared a prayer for the departed and the girls were invited to a devotional that week.  She gave the teachers her phone number which she had declined to do earlier.  She said, “you’ve really enlightened my day!” and the teachers said the feeling was mutual. 
Two more teachers took to heart the idea of staying with the seeker as long as they wanted.  The first house was the only house they went to and they were there about three hours.  The team introduced themselves to a guy in builder’s overalls.  He disappeared to their surprise but came back with chairs, so they all sat down for a very intense, deep conversation.  The man was a deep thinker with strong opinions, a gentle soul who occasionally talks with much emotion. He wanted to know what is different in Bahá’í Faith from Christianity.  He invited the seekers to come back.  The teachers plan to return to find out if he is really receptive, or if his strongly held beliefs prevent him from hearing the New Message.
Another team of a male, female and child visited several receptive homes where the people asked for return visits.  They met an African American man on crutches coming out of his house.  He and his wife had heard of the Faith in their investigation of religions and invited them to come back during the week.  A lady with an unusual name (she said she has “hippy” parents) was very receptive.  The teachers went through the whole presentation with her.  Afterward she admitted she was sick so they offered to say healing prayers.  She gave her email address and asked for a return visit and said she really likes this.  A young Caucasian American male, strong in Native religion (mentioned liking smudges, which one of the teachers also liked) asked the team to return again when his wife is there.  The team will bring native believers.  Another man who was house-sitting heard part of the presentation. He became emotional during presentation.  He lives in another area of town where there are strong believers to follow-up, as he wants to learn more!  
One team found that there was not much receptivity on their block, so they decided to try another one.  They went to a house and talked to two youth, who suggested they talk to the mom.  After waiting, she appeared.  She is Christian and happy with that, although she had investigated other faiths, but said the youth were free to investigate whatever he wants.  The youth asked for something to read and the team set up another time to visit.  
A team of three ladies meet an older African American woman who knew some early Baha’is in the area and had attended meetings long ago.  She was recuperating from surgery so the team said prayers with her.  She gave them her phone number and asked for a return visit. She is Buddhist.  They also met a Moslem woman from Saudi Arabia, and her 12 yr old son.  Two team members began speaking with her in Arabic and she was so taken with this that she invited them in.  She is interested in junior youth and children’s class for her many children.  She gave her kid’s names, her contact info and wants to know the schedule for the classes.
A team with a veteran teacher, a youth, and junior youth found that the area they were in was too prosperous, and not very receptive so they changed location and were able to give three full presentations of the Faith.  The youth on the team felt drawn to one home that the team had passed up, so they returned.  They met a young woman who had recently moved to the neighborhood to live with her grandmother.  There was suffering in the family and her mother was in the hospital.  There was a lot of interaction and she resisted her cousins telling her to go back inside.  The teacher asked if she believes this, and she said yes.  This appeared to be a significant statement to her.  When beginning the enrollment process she indicated that she is not yet ready to make the decision of becoming Baha’i and wants to think about it more.  When the teacher asked if she has children, she said no, she’s only 16!  She goes to the same high school as our new believer from the last cycle. 

If you are interested in hearing about the Baha’i Faith, please contact us!

Photo: some of the participants in our nine-day teaching campaign, taken on Sunday, September 28, 2008, by Bonita Dannells.

Gate of the Heart

The anniversary of the Birth of the Báb is soon to arrive. It will be on Monday, October 20th, and is one of our Holy Days. The blessed Báb’s appearance on this earth is one of the great events in human history, one that as yet few people appreciate, probably even many Bahá’ís. He was the Forerunner of Bahá’u’lláh and devoted His life to preparing the way for Him. The tumultuous events that occurred in Iran during His brief Ministry, so ably recorded in The Dawnbreakers, was inevitable given the social conditions that prevailed in that country.

Bahá’ís of many years who have read widely, searching for and absorbing all of the knowledge that they could obtain about their Faith, have had little available to them about the Writings of the Báb. We have the marvelous Selections from the Writings of the Báb published by the Universal House of Justice in 1976. However, finding commentary to help us gain a real appreciation of His Writings has been elusive. About all that has been available are short scholarly essays which have a narrow focus, must be pulled together from many sources and are few and far between, and are written in the standard terminology of scholarship that requires most readers to keep a dictionary at their side.

“Gate of the Heart: Understanding the Writings of the Báb” by Nader Saiedi, published in 2008 by Wilfrid Laurier University Press, is a welcome and refreshing addition to our literature that goes a long way to helping us gain this understanding that so many of us have sought. So far, I have read only the first three of the fourteen chapters. Mr. Saiedi’s exploration of the Báb’s Writings presents a comprehensive overview and synthesis of these important Writings in a scholarly manner without the “terminology potholes” that the uninitiated must typically navigate when reading scholarly essays. The profundity of the Báb’s Writings quickly strike one as deeply impressive and one must read the book to appreciate them. It is no quick read – I need to read a little at a time and then put the book aside for awhile – but the writing is very good and the prose flows well.  I have reservations as to whether it would be a good book to read by someone not deepened in the Faith, but I cannot say – my perspective is as a Bahá’í of many years with a large library.  What I can tell you is that I’m loving it.     

I would like to share one passage from Gate of the Heart. It is talking about the incredible challenge that the Báb faced in presenting His world-shaking Message, but It also speaks to us today about the difficulties that we, as devoted followers of Bahá’u’lláh, face in teaching the Faith:

“To be willing to subject to reexamination one’s most deeply cherished beliefs – beliefs that constitute the foundation of one’s personal identity – and accept the possibility that those beliefs may be mistaken requires an extremely high degree of psychological and spiritual maturity. It requires an absolute dedication to searching out the truth above all, no matter where that search leads, and a willingness to recognize the truth once one encounters it, no matter what the consequences. Few people possess such a level of absolute justice and love of truth that surpasses all other allegiances and inclinations. Thus the majority of the audience to whom the Báb would offer His message could be expected to respond to it initially with shock, denial, and rejection.” [page 89]

“Gate of the Heart: Understanding the Writings of the Báb” may be purchased through the Bahá’í Distribution Service.

The Webmaster

Letters from Our Viewers

Letters from Our Viewers


Dear Friends,

Our Community’s new website, or blog, has been online for over two months. We have endeavored to share with you the beliefs and values of the followers of Baha’u’llah and do so in a way that will attract your interest. Happily, we have come to the attention of surfers on the world wide web. We would like to share with you some of their letters.

The Webmaster




Dear Sir,

I have been examining your website. Pyuck! I cannot believe that you have concocted such an abomination of a website. A more pitiful excuse for the use of the ether that makes up the web I have not seen before nor can scarcely imagine. I hardly know where to begin. Who chose the color scheme? Farm animals? Circus clowns? And how could you use a photograph in the banner with such insipid flowers? And how are those themes chosen? By having an inebriate throw darts blindfolded at your library? You call your website a blog? A blog? Really?? No, your [expletive deleted] website is no blog, it’s a blaahg. Blaah Blaah Blaah Blaah Blaahg!  But not to worry. Nothing is wasted. I have found an excellent use for your blaahg. I print it out and place the paper on the bottom of my bird cage. Outstanding! I am so irritated and offended by your blaahg that I am determined to figure out how to run toilet paper through my printer. Then I can print it out and make the best possible use of it. Your blaahg is so obnoxious and unimaginative that I bet your day job is working for the government. I could go on, but you are not worth any more of my time. Please do me and the world a favor and remove it forever.

Sincerely, James M.


Dear James M.

Thank you for your very kind letter. “Unity in Diversity” is the watchword of the Baha’i Faith. That phrase, in a nutshell, explains what we are all about. Only when we all come together can we then gather together our joint resources and collective wisdom and apply ourselves to solving the multitude of the common problems of humanity. Not only is such a course of action practical, but it is also one of the fundamental purposes of religion. As the Forerunner of Baha’u’llah, the Bab, has said, “Please God, that we avoid the land of denial, and advance into the ocean of acceptance, so that we may perceive, with an eye purged from all conflicting elements, the worlds of unity and diversity, of variation and oneness, of limitation and detachment, and wing our flight unto the highest and innermost sanctuary of the inner meaning of the Word of God.” Our beloved Master, ‘Abdu’l-Baha,  made the same point even more clearly when he told us, “In reality all are members of one human family — children of one Heavenly Father. Humanity may be likened unto the vari-colored flowers of one garden. There is unity in diversity. Each sets off and enhances the other’s beauty.”


But, first, of course, we must all come together! People of diverse views must meet and talk. Your fine letter, lucidly expressing your point of view, provides us with an excellent opportunity to practice this fundamental reality. I feel that we are really bonding! Diverse points of view have come together in conversation. Unity, of course, does not come easily. Real effort is required. The truth is that working together in peaceful consultation, with the head-butting that so often goes on, is so much more difficult, and requires so much more courage and effort than the simple expedient of war, with its terrible consequences.


On a side note, may I recommend to you consideration of the virtue of courtesy? It is the prince of virtues. Baha’u’llah Himself has said of courtesy, “O people of God! I admonish you to observe courtesy, for above all else it is the prince of virtues. Well is it with him who is illumined with the light of courtesy and is attired with the vesture of uprightness. Whoso is endued with courtesy hath indeed attained a sublime station. It is hoped that this Wronged One and everyone else may be enabled to acquire it, hold fast unto it, observe it, and fix our gaze upon it.”


As an expression of our appreciation for your letter, we have attached an audio message that we hope you will enjoy.

With loving greetings, The Webmaster


Appreciation Gift




Dear Baha’i Blog-Person,

I have been looking at your blog and I do enjoy the photos and ideas. Indeed, they are interesting and sometimes even fascinating! While I recognize that there is a place in the world for this God stuff, I have a suggestion to offer: use your valuable time and resources with your website instead to pursue the truth about UFOs. This is the most important discovery in history. All of the TV shows on the subject agree that there are aliens from outer space visiting our world and checking up on us! Meanwhile, the government denies everything. Every effort really must be made to uncover the truth. You could also promote other worthwhile investigations such as Bigfoot. And, here is a great idea for you. You know that TV show where they look for ghosts? You could have your own TV show investigating reports of spontaneous human combustion! It would be a great success. No one is doing a show on that. Once again, you have a very nice site, but you could put your resources to better use.

Yours very truly, Lee R.



Dear Lee R.,

Thank you for your very kind letter. Baha’is can think of no better use of their resources and time than service to their Creator. All of God’s Manifestations throughout recorded history have taught us that our primary duty is to recognize God, through His Messenger, and to be obedient to His teachings. God’s Messenger today is Baha’u’llah. This duty includes both the life-long endeavor at personal improvement and transformation, and the effort to have all mankind recognize that we are one people from one planet with one God and that we all need to work together to improve the quality of everyone’s lives. Other activities may be interesting, but they are of secondary importance. ‘Abdu’l-Baha tells us that “in this great century the most important of all subjects is the oneness of the world of humankind.” The number of Baha’is in the world, at this juncture in history, is few, and we are determined to focus on what is most important for us. We are pursuing the most important subject. We are most appreciative of your attention to our website and hope that you continue to enjoy it.

With loving greetings, The Webmaster




Dear Tacoma Baha’i Community.

Congratulations! You may have just won $10,000,000! That’s TEN MILLION DOLLARS! Imagine how your life will be transformed. No more work – live in luxurious retirement. Travel: Las Vegas, New York, Paris.  Your possibilities are endless. Yes, Tacoma Baha’i Community, the opportunity of a lifetime stands before you. You need take just a few minutes of your time. And it costs you nothing! There is no obligation! Go to the web link below and follow the cues. Nothing is easier. Only a few lucky persons will receive this priceless opportunity. Don’t delay! Click on the link NOW and ACT! You may never have this chance again. As the winner, you will be the source of unending happiness for your family. Don’t let someone else beat you to it. What would your loved ones think of you if you let this once in a lifetime opportunity slip between your fingers? Go there NOW for $10,000,000!

Greg T. for Nothing to Chance Promotions



Dear Greg T.,

Thank you for your very kind letter.  Material wealth has its importance in the world, but sadly, far too many people attach themselves to its acquisition and forget that their true wealth lies within themselves and their connection to God. The material wealth that you offer is something that no ones needs. Every soul is, in fact, already born rich. Baha’u’llah tells us, “O Son of Spirit! I created thee rich, why dost thou bring thyself down to poverty? Noble I made thee, wherewith dost thou abase thyself?”   The wealth that really matters comes from God. Again, Baha’u’llah tells us, “Thou art He, O God, Who hath proclaimed Himself as the Lord of Wealth, and characterized all that serve Him as poor and needy.” All humankind are the poor and needy, and they receive their portion of God’s wealth by turning to Him through His Manifestation, Baha’u’llah: “This is a Revelation that infuseth strength into the feeble, and crowneth with wealth the destitute.” Our Lord has counseled us that it would be better to avoid even possessing the vast wealth that you offer. Once again, Baha’u’llah advises us, “O Son of Man! Thou dost wish for gold and I desire thy freedom from it. Thou thinkest thyself rich in its possession, and I recognize thy wealth in thy sanctity therefrom.”


You refer to work and suggest that life would be better without it. No one should think that their life would be better without work. It is one of our great benefits. Baha’u’llah tells us that work is worship: “O people of Baha! It is incumbent upon each one of you to engage in some occupation — such as a craft, a trade or the like. We have graciously exalted your engagement in such work to the rank of worship unto God, the True One.”  And again He says, “Thus it is incumbent on every one to engage in crafts and professions, for therein lies the secret of wealth, O men of understanding!”


Everyone should turn to God. They can only benefit. And it costs nothing but some of their time. There is no obligation. Everyone receives this priceless opportunity, and it can only bestow blessings upon their families. They should do it now, without delay. Please click one of the links in our sidebar and begin your spiritual journey, a journey that will bestow upon you endless blessings both in this world and the world to come.

With loving greetings, The Webmaster




Dear Santa,

I have been very good this year. I want a bicycle, a foosball table, baseballs, a bat and glove, a computer and lots of cool computer games to go with it (see attached list), a big screen TV for my bedroom, an iPod, a trip to Disneyland, and many different action toys (see attached list). My Mom asks me to include my sister. Just get her another doll. Thank you.




Dear Billy,

Thank you for your very kind letter. Your interests are wide-ranging and very commendable. It is apparent that you are highly motivated to improve yourself in so many ways that are vital to one’s spiritual development. Your interests include education, physical conditioning, appreciation of the arts, and travel. Along with spiritual and moral education, these things will be of benefit to yourself and others for a lifetime. Knowledge gives you the skills to earn a living and to support your family. Physical conditioning contributes to good health and enables you be happy and productive. Appreciation of the arts imbues you with a sense of the beauty that exists in all of God’s creation. And travel sharpens your insight into the realization of the oneness of humanity.


Your thoughtfulness of your dear sister was the nicest part of your letter. It shows that you are a caring person and that you are blessed to belong to a loving family. That is more important than all of the gifts that you will ever receive. It reveals the spirit of God’s love reflecting from your soul. May you and your family have a blessed and happy holiday season.

With loving greetings, The Webmaster




The letters from viewers are works of fiction and not actual letters received from viewers. The views expressed in the letters of reply are the opinions of the webmaster and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any institutions of the Baha’i Faith. The quotes from the Baha’i Writings are authentic.


Photo: springtime flowers in the gardens just north of the Collins Gate at Bahji

Courtesy – the Prince of Virtues

Courtesy. It’s really important. It will help you along the right path and keep you from going down the wrong one. It gives you an advantage and keeps you from getting into trouble. Got courtesy?

Here are some words of Baha’u’llah on courtesy.

“Say: Let truthfulness and courtesy be your adorning. Suffer not yourselves to be deprived of the robe of forbearance and justice, that the sweet savors of holiness may be wafted from your hearts upon all created things. Say: Beware, O people of Baha, lest ye walk in the ways of them whose words differ from their deeds. Strive that ye may be enabled to manifest to the peoples of the earth the signs of God, and to mirror forth His commandments. Let your acts be a guide unto all mankind, for the professions of most men, be they high or low, differ from their conduct. It is through your deeds that ye can distinguish yourselves from others. Through them the brightness of your light can be shed upon the whole earth. Happy is the man that heedeth My counsel, and keepeth the precepts prescribed by Him Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.” Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah

“We, verily, have chosen courtesy, and made it the true mark of such as are nigh unto Him. Courtesy is, in truth, a raiment which fitteth all men, whether young or old. Well is it with him that adorneth his temple therewith, and woe unto him who is deprived of this great bounty.” Baha’u’llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf

“O people of God! I admonish you to observe courtesy, for above all else it is the prince of virtues. Well is it with him who is illumined with the light of courtesy and is attired with the vesture of uprightness. Whoso is endued with courtesy hath indeed attained a sublime station. It is hoped that this Wronged One and everyone else may be enabled to acquire it, hold fast unto it, observe it, and fix our gaze upon it. This is a binding command which hath streamed forth from the Pen of the Most Great Name.” Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah

“This Youth has never loved nor will ever love to utter any word which is against courtesy. Verily, courtesy is My Garment with which we have adorned the temples of our favorite servants.” Baha’u’llah, Baha’i Scriptures

“It is incumbent upon you to consort with all the nations and people of the world with the utmost love and kindness, and show affection, justice, assistance, consideration and courtesy to all the different communities and sects.” Baha’u’llah, Baha’i Scriptures

Don’t wait. Start practicing courtesy today. And if you already are, then good for you! It’s to your advantage. Let’s keep it up.

Photo: Denver Morgan and Sharon McIntyre, staff members serving at the Baha’i World Centre in Haifa, Israel, during a visit to Capernaum. c. 1984/85

Service to God – an Inestimable Blessing







The Alaska Baha’i Community was richly blessed, over several decades and on many occasions, by visits of the Hands of the Cause of God. These dear souls were appointed by the Guardian of the Faith, Shoghi Effendi, in accordance with the provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha. Our beloved Guardian identified them as servants of Baha’u’llah who showed extraordinary devotion to the service of God and who held great capacity for spreading the Word of God, encouraging the followers of Baha’u’llah and safeguarding them as they struggled to advance their Cause.

They are an example to us of the ability that each of us has to consecrate ourselves to service to God. Few of us, of course, are able to so fully devote ourselves to this service. We need to earn a living and support ourselves and our families. Each of us, however, can make a personal decision to service by whatever means are open to us according to our circumstances. During the last ten years, this has become easier than ever. We no longer have to think about what to do, but rather, how to go about it, because today we have a convenient roadmap to guide us along our spiritual path of service. Our beloved Universal House of Justice, in consultation with the Counselors at the International Teaching Centre and others, have given us this map.

Our objective is to reach out to those in our community who believe as we do, those who are looking for what we have found and yearn to enter in the Ark of the Covenant of Baha’u’llah, if they but knew that it existed and understood its world redeeming, evolutionizing and revolutionizing implications.  This is a sacred task for us, and we accomplish it by training and raising up enough committed Baha’is in every locality who have the skills to effectively carry forward this teaching work and maintain the effort on an on-going basis. We reach out to our friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers and invite their participation in our activities. Here is what we do:

Devotional Meetings. Regular meetings in homes where people can gather informally over prayers, spiritual writings, and music, and enjoy one another’s company. It’s a great way to meet new people and make new friends.

Study Circles. Meetings to study an established course of spiritual subjects and to give participants the skills, through practice, to tell others about the Baha’i Faith. The sequence of courses is called Ruhi, and any particular Study Circle is scheduled according to the interests of the participants. 

Children’s Classes and Junior Youth Activities. Programs designed to bring children and young people together in activities that allow them to develop socially and spiritually. The future of humankind will only be as good as the spiritual qualities instilled into children and youth. 

Firesides. Informal meetings at the homes of Baha’is where pople can socialize and discuss diverse topics of interest without any formal agenda.

As we continue in our efforts to reach out to our friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers, we will increasingly win victories for God.

“O Lord! Assist those who have renounced all else but Thee, and grant them a mighty victory. Send down upon them, O Lord, the concourse of the angels in the heaven and earth and all that is between, to aid Thy servants, to succor and strengthen them, to enable them to achieve success, to sustain them, to invest them with glory, to confer upon them honor and exaltation, to enrich them and to make them triumphant with a wondrous triumph.” Baha’u’llah

“Should such a man ever succeed in influencing any one, this success should be attributed not to him, but rather to the influence of the words of God, as decreed by Him Who is the Almighty, the All-Wise. In the sight of God he is regarded as a lamp that imparteth its light, and yet is all the while being consumed within itself.” Baha’u’llah

“Success or failure, gain or loss, must, therefore, depend upon man’s own exertions. The more he striveth, the greater will be his progress. We fain would hope that the vernal showers of the bounty of God may cause the flowers of true understanding to spring from the soil of men’s hearts, and may wash them from all earthly defilements.” Baha’u’llah

“Success will crown the efforts of the friends on the home front when they meditate on the teaching, pray fervently for divine confirmations for their work, study the teachings so they may carry the spirit to the seeker, and then act, — and above all persevere in action.” Shoghi Effendi

Photos by Blaine Reed of Hands of the Cause of God during visits to Alaska

Feast of ‘Izzat / Might


What a happy gathering! Really, now, have you ever seen a more cheerful bunch of people? Here are Baha’is from Tacoma with guests at the Feast of Might (‘Izzat) on Monday, September 8th at the Lewis home, hosted by BJ Bailey.

Our special guests were on their honeymoon from their home in Beijing, China. Marc Lee and Farnoosh Famouri-Lee (together in the lower right corner) were visiting Marc’s brother, who lives in Tacoma.

Many children and youth were in attendance, and during the first part of Feast they learned songs in the back yard. At the conclusion of the business portion, they joined the rest of us in the living room and sang their songs with us. What beautiful voices! (At least the children and youth.)

Tacoma, Washington  The NEW honeymoon destination.

The world goes to Beijing. Beijing comes to Tacoma!

Photo by Marc Lee