Friday, January 3, 2014

A whole whack of ideas

I have about 80 articles started in my "drafts" folder. This is, or was, one of them.

Every now and then, when I'm wondering what to write, I take a look in this folder and see what leaps out at me. Every now and then it is a fully finished article that I just never got around to posting, perhaps due to having posted another one earlier in the day. Other times it is an article that is so close to being done that all I need to do is add a few extra phrases here or there.

Today it is a series of six short paragraphs, most of which are just a single phrase expressing the beginning of a thought, and all of which need copious amounts of work to be ready for publication.

Or not.

Let's see.

To start, the first idea is "post the video about how we don't feel our own opinion is interesting". Okay. That's easy. Here it is:

Ok. That wasn't actually the one I wanted, but after looking for an hour, and listening to many other amazing talks, I couldn't find the one I really wanted and settled for this one. The one I wanted was about how there are many people who dismiss their own brilliant insights because they think, "Oh, it's not that great. Anyone could've thought of that." In other words, to ourselves our insights don't seem all that great, because we are the ones who thought of them.

Baha'ì connection: I have to include this because that is the whole point of this blog. The Baha'i connection for me to the above idea is that we have to include our opinions in consultation. When talking about teaching, or pretty much any other subject, if don't offer our thoughts, we may be denying the entire group the exact point that is needed to find a better understanding of truth. Of course, we must offer these thoughts clearly, and with detachment, courtesy and humility.

The second paragraph in my notes, also known as "an incomplete sentence", was "people keep doing the same thing and getting the same results." Well, this is a no-brainer. We only need to look around to see that this is true. If you keep on doing the same thing over and over again, you will get the same results over and over again. Generally speaking, that is. I mean, if you play the same lottery numbers over and over, you might actually win, but probably not. (As I told Shoghi, the lottery is a great game for people who don't understand math.) But this statement is also a good summary of the scientific method. If you can`t replicate the experiment, then it isn`t considered valid.

The follow-up to this is that doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is a fairly good definition of insanity. If we truly want to get significantly different results, then we need to change what it is that we are doing.

Baha'i connection: Well, this is why we have the Baha'i Faith, isn't it? We've been trying to apply the same remedy to humanity's problems for a very (very) long time. They worked for a while, helping advance the cause of unity and raise humanity to a higher and more moral station, but these ideas seem to have stopped working a long time ago. We have a whole new set of problems that we are trying to deal with, and we need some new guidance. Of course, this is not to say that the teachings and guidelines from previously revealed religions is no longer valid, but more to say that we have overlaid such a mess of baggage on top of these teachings that we have a difficult time separating the original intent of the teachings from the dogmatic traditions. Seeing these teachings through the lens of Baha'u'llah's teachings helps us get back to the spiritual heart of these differing faiths.

Number three: "look at Marielle's story about Mario". I have no idea what this is referring to. I know that it referred to something about a co-worker of hers, and nothing about the video game. That's what I get for not writing down more details at the time.

Number 4: "Talking with Darod: I don't like my job. Work, done in the spirit of service to humanity has been elevated to worship... Talking about what is prayer and meditation and service."

This is referring to a conversation I had with a dear friend who has since moved to Ottawa. I really miss him and his family. Anyways, one day we were talking in his living room when he made the comment about how he really didn't like his work. It seemed to me that he had a job that was fairly reasonable, and well-suited to his skills and interests, but I think he was just frustrated at various intra-office stuff. Knowing that he is a very devout Muslim, and that service to humanity is extremely important to him, I found a connection to a Baha'i teaching that I thought would assist him in his dilemma.

It worked.

I quoted 'Abdu'l-Baha's statement, "Work done in the spirit of service is the highest form of worship...." This seemed to ease his heart and give him a new inspiration to keep up a high standard in his job.

Baha'i connection: See above quote.

The fifth statement: Multi-faith versus interfaith and non-denominational versus multi-denominational.

This is a bit more abstract and may take a bit more time to explain. Also, there are two different ideas in this one.

The first is multi-faith versus interfaith. In my job as a chaplain at multi-faith services at UVic, this has come up quite a bit. Multi-faith implies a group of different faiths all working independently, although perhaps in the same proximity. Interfaith starts at the same point, but implies a mingling of them. When you hold your fingers out, they are each fairly weak on their own, but when you interlace them, there is a greater strength there. They work far more closely together, but may not have as much independent movement.

In the office, just before I started, they changed the name from "Interfaith Services" to "Multi-faith Services". There were some who didn't like the idea of working more closely with the others. Their beliefs were nothing that they were willing to compromise on, and they felt, for some reason, that working with others in a more "inter" manner would somehow be a compromise.

Which is better? Well, I prefer "inter" to "multi", but I'm not the only one in the office, and I will stand by their decision. Out of all of us in there, I'm probably the one with the least number of students to work with, and hence the most "free time". I'm sure that if I had 1000 students to deal with on a regular basis, I'd want to do my own thing on my own, too.

The second point in here, multi- versus non-denominational. The first is, again, inclusive of a number of differing groups, but not necessarily working together in harmony. They may all be doing their own thing in the same space, such as one group having a service at 9:00, and another at 10:00. They may never see each other, except in the hall, or in a meeting to agree when they will get to use the space. But, to be fair, they are working together to some degree in that they are sharing the space.

Non-denominational means that they fall under the banner umbrella, such as Christian, but not under a specific slant of the teachings, such as Catholic. And while many groups claim this, I have never found one that actually is. They all claim to "read the Bible as it is", which is the same claim as any other denomination. And while they have their own particular slant, they generally don't show the conviction of it by stating that they have it. To be truly non-denominational, they would need to read the Bible, or whatever sacred Text they use, and offer no commentary on it. Of course, they would also need to read it in the original, as a translation would also have a slant.

Now, I'm not saying that I'm authoritative, or even right, on these views, but they are what I believe. And I think we need to look at these terms a bit more closely when using them. Inter-, multi-, and non- all have their own benefits and their own weaknesses. They are different, and we should be aware of the differences.

Baha'i connection? I'm not sure there is one, except that they come up in my own work regularly.

So that was one draft article, sort of added to fairly quickly, mostly to get it out there, but also to see what others think.

Now to go out and enjoy a beautiful sunny day outside.

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